The Chicago Cubs came into the NLCS fresh off a dominant regular season and a soul-crushing defeat of the San Francisco Giants. Since a Game 1 win, they haven’t scored a run. Clayton Kershaw shut them out in Game 2, which is understandable since he’s Clayton Kershaw, but a much more unlikely hero blanked them tonight. Rich Hill, the 36-year-old curveball maestro, tossed six splendid innings and helped the Dodgers to a 2-1 lead in the NLCS.
Before tonight, Hill had only earned decisions in two playoff games, both losses. Only two Cubs managed to get a hit off him tonight, and he struck out six. Nobody could seem to pick up on his insane, looping curveball, even though he keeps it much higher in the zone than any other pitcher.
He’s not a star or anything, but his utter reliance on that arching curve is unlike any other starter left in the playoffs. Hill went six years between starts, spending 2009 to 2015 bouncing between the minors and relief duty, before experiencing a very late career renaissance. I hope he Jamie Moyers around for a few more years and eventually throws nothing but geometrically ambitious curves.
The Dodgers will give a crucial Game 4 start to young Julio Urias, while the Cubs will roll with John Lackey.