2019 NLDS: Rich Hill Felt Too Dependent On Curveball, Believes Home-Plate Umpire Doug Eddings Had Tight Strike Zone In Dodgers’ Game 4 Loss

Heading into Sunday’s game, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts reaffirmed Rich Hill would start against the Washington Nationals in Game 4 of the 2019 National League Division Series regardless of that evening’s outcome.

The underlying sentiment, of course, being would the Dodgers keep with sending the veteran left-hander to the mound if their season was on the line? That wound up being a moot point as the Dodgers thumped the Nationals to take a 2-1 series lead.

So Hill made his Game 4 start on Monday, hoping to provide the team with four innings. He wound up falling short of that due to walking his way into trouble in the third. Hill allowed a run and exited with the bases loaded.

He attributed that to relying too heavily on his curveball in addition to a belief home-plate umpire Doug Eddings had a tight strike zone, as seen on SportsNet LA:

“I think I got too curveball-happy there in the third inning and a few of those pitches were executed for strikes. I think they might have been missed (by home-plate umpire Doug Eddings), but that’s the way it is. But overall, I would have liked to go deeper for us to give us a better chance. … I think if I could’ve finished off that third inning it might’ve changed things.”

Spotted a 1-0 lead thanks to Justin Turner’s home run, Hill worked around Adam Eaton’s one-out walk in the first inning. A leadoff single in the second was followed by a strikeout and inning-ending double play.

Hill’s breaking ball was mixing in and out of the zone and he pitched without any noticeable effects or discomfort from his previous knee trouble. Hill issued three walks in the third inning and appeared to question Eddings about the strike zone.

“I think that Rich, all night the depth of the curveball, it just wasn’t quite there,” Roberts said. “I think that the curveball was up all night and the finish wasn’t there. I think tonight it was just one of those that the breaking ball command just didn’t have that sharpness.”

Hill’s valiant effort and determination to pitch in October weren’t enough for the Dodgers, who return to Dodger Stadium facing a winner-take-all scenario. Walker Buehler is due to start Wednesday, with Clayton Kershaw among the pitchers expected to be available out of the bullpen.