Rich Hill may have one of the most unhittable arsenals of pitches in all of baseball, with plenty of pitches that curve dramatically and spin wildly. Even pitches that miss their spots and catch too much of the plate don’t necessarily get hit hard due to how extreme the movement behind them is. However, despite his brilliant capabilities, Hill has been mediocre for most of his entire career.
Hill’s problem, as it has been hashed out many-a-time on this site, is that his pitches move so much that even he doesn’t have much control over where the pitch ends up. So despite his incredible stuff, high pitch counts and walk rates have typically relegated Hill to the bullpen and put enough pressure on his arm to cause need for a Tommy John surgery. So for Hill, his major league experience is, in a way (if you stretch) like a Catch-22. For a decade, because of his stuff, Hill has gotten jobs all over the majors, and even after disappearing from baseball for a while, he had multiple offers to pitch this past offseason. However, for a decade, because of his stuff, Hill has been inconsistent and unable to reach the lofty expectations of the teams that sign him. Quite a catch, that Catch-22.
Hill struggled in his last outing, but there are a multitude of reasons contributing as to why he struggled, and pitching in the comfy confines of Safeco Field will certainly not hurt his efforts in the game today. Opposing Rich Hill is Nate Karns, who beat out James Paxton for the 5th starter job in Seattle. Nate Karns has a lot of strikeout potential, on average striking out about one batter per inning last season when he pitched for Tampa Bay. Karns is successful when he is effectively pairing a nice curveball and developing changeup with his plus fastball, and he is not successful when he is giving up too many home runs. He also has had previous struggles with getting through a lineup more than twice, and so if Oakland can run up his pitch count and get ducks on the pond, Karns is more likely than most Seattle pitchers to have a shorter outing.
|OAKLAND A'S||SEATTLE MARINERS|
|Coco Crisp - CF||Norichika Aoki - LF|
|Chris Coghlan - LF||Ketel Marte - SS|
|Josh Reddick - RF||Robinson Cano - 2B|
|Danny Valencia - 3B||Nelson Cruz - DH|
|Stephen Vogt - C||Kyle Seager - 3B|
|Jed Lowrie - 2B||Chris Iannetta - C|
|Khris Davis - DH||Franklin Gutierrez - RF|
|Yonder Alonso - 1B||Dae-Ho Lee - 1B|
|Marcus Semien - SS||Leonys Martin - CF|
|Rich Hill - LHP||Nate Karns - RHP|
It appears that the A’s are playing their best defensive lineup today. Burns has the day off, as does Canha, and Khris Davis is acting as the DH today. Stephen Vogt, as the team’s superior pitch caller, will be behind the plate, and may wind up being Rich Hill’s personal catcher, as Vogt caught him in the opener as well despite facing lefty Chris Sale that day.
As a final note, the indomitable Susan Slusser reported that, with all the heavy bullpen usage through the first handful of games, soon a starter is going to have to "take one for the team," so to speak and pitch longer in a poor performance. Ideally, the starters will all perform well and this won’t be an issue, but there is a chance sometime soon, maybe even today, that a starter goes at least five innings despite allowing more than five runs. Slusser also hinted that Hahn may spend more time than people are expecting in Triple A, and it is going to take the performance failure of a pitcher currently on the major league club to allow for Hahn’s recall rather than the ten day wait limit.
Game start time is 6:10.