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The return of Rich Hill.

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Rich Hill’s career has been much like his curveball.

It starts off high before dropping off the table.

Hill, a fourth round pick in 2002, rose quickly through the Chicago Cub’s minor league system. In 2004, he led the team’s Daytona club in strikeouts. The next year, he led all of the Cub’s minor league clubs. In 2006, Hill earned himself a spot in the big league rotation, posting respectable stats through 16 starts. The following year, he broke out and went 11-8 with 3.92 ERA and 183 SO through 195 IP.

But something went wrong in 2008.

Hill couldn’t find the strikezone and batters weren’t biting his curveball. He got demoted to AAA Iowa in early May. He then got demoted to Extended Spring Training. It got so bad the Cubs even discussed shutting him down completely.

By the time the Cubs decided it was time to deal Rich Hill, he was a 28-year-old with little trade value. Most saw him as a one-pitch pony and without that one pitch working, Hill was worth nothing.

During the offseason, the Baltimore Orioles stole Rich Hill from the Chicago Cubs. All they lost was a Player To Be Named Later.

Hill needed a change of scenery. During a brief minor league stint in the Oriole’s system, he regained his control and his curveball became an “outpitch” again. Through four major league starts, Hill’s gone 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA and 22 SO in 21.2 innings. Last night he pitched seven innings of 2-hit baseball against the Seattle Mariners. He had one bad start against Toronto, but that’s been his only blemish thus far.

Rich Hill is dealing.

The Oriole’s acquisition of Hill was touted as a good, low risk move during the offseason. Few, however, believed he would ever regain his control and prove to be valuable.

Well for the low, low price of a PTBNL, the Orioles have a very valuable middle of the rotation starter.

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