As far as non-roster invitees go, you can’t get much more interesting than Rich Hill. In 2007, Hill struck out 183 in 195 innings pitched and was a three win pitcher. Since then, he’s contracted Steve Blass disease, also known as Ankielitis. Adding injury to insult, Hill is coming off labrum surgery. At least that might explain some of his badness.

CHONE, Marcel, ZiPS and the Fans are in harmony in their projections of Hill — 4.8ish FIP, lots of walks, a nice strikeout rate and somewhere between 90-100 innings; good for roughly around 1 WAR. Coming off labrum surgery, I think expecting much of anything feels optimistic. I’m still dealing with Mulder shell-shock, but at least they’re not paying Mulder money or anything near it. This is a no-risk, all-reward move. Yay Cards.

Stuff wise, Hill’s repertoire consists of an 88-90 MPH, the occasional change-up, and a droppifying curveball, the key to his whiffs. For fun, I thought it would be interesting to compare Hill’s curve to the average lefty and Barry Zito, the King of Lefty Curveballs.

Name Speed Horizontal Vertical Spin Rate Spin Direction
MLB LHP 74.7 -4.3 -6 1292 299.8
Rich Hill 71.5 -7.9 -8.4 1392 317
Barry Zito 72.9 -4.5 -10.4 1749 333.1

Not a true 12-6er, but that’s a lot of movement. It’s more of an 1-7 curve. Here’s a spin deflection graph, and then we’ll look at the results -

Name Strike% Whiff% Swing% Foul% In Play%
MLB LHP 58.4 10.1 38.8 13.7 14.9
Rich Hill 61.4 9.2 35.7 12.9 13.5
Barry Zito 65.5 7.5 42.5 19 16

I find it odd that two lefties with such great curves get less swings and misses than average. Huh. At any rate, Hill is flyer worthy.

Erik Manning

Erik became addicted to Cardinals baseball as a young lad growing up on the mean streets of O'Fallon, MO. He moved away to Tulsa to attend Bible College, where he met his wife, who talked him into moving to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, also known as the Bermuda triangle of baseball. His dream is to see the blackouts end, and his other interests are theology and philosophy of religion. He is the parent of two young boys.

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