Per Jeffrey Flanagan, Kansas City Royals reliever Tim Hill worked on adding a changeup during the off-season.
As can be seen in Flanagan’s tweet below, Tim Hill went through a trial and error process when figuring out exactly how to get his new pitch. Hopefully adding it will help him improve upon 2018 to become a reliable left-handed option in the Kansas City Royals bullpen.
Last season Hill pitched 45.2 innings across 70 appearances with an ERA of 4.53. He did post an FIP of 3.51 and an fWAR of 0.5. Another good part of his game was his 8.28 K/9 and 2.76 BB/9.
More so than any other pitch, the changeup is truly a feel pitch. There is no one cookie cutter grip, so trial and error is the only way to figure out what will work best. For those pitchers who can really find the pitch, it can become one of the most deadly weapons in their arsenal.
What Can The Changeup Do For Hill?
The biggest help the pitch will bring him is the increased ability to get righties out. As a southpaw, getting the left-handed hitters out is an easier task, so Hill needs a weapon for those opposite handed batters.
Hills splits show exactly where the changeup might help. He pitched against 82 left handed hitters, striking 20 of them out and holding them to a .224 batting average and .258 wOBA. Those same stats against righties read 116 batters, 22 strikeouts, .274 batting average, and .335 wOBA.
I am not just cherry-picking stats either. His FIP vs. lefties is sub three while it is over four vs. righties. His K/9 is two strikeouts higher in the same hand match-up too. As is the case with almost every pitcher ever, splits favor the throwing side heavily.
Splits will always inherently favor the lefty/lefty match-up, but adding in a changeup can bring the numbers closer together.
Per Baseball Savant, Hill spent last season throwing a four-seamer, a sinker, and a slider. That slider is the reason that he is so successful against lefties, but it is not as good against righties. That is where adding the changeup will hopefully help improve that.
To give an idea of how drastic the change in effectiveness is between righties and lefties, the difference in hard hit percentage is 57.1/15.8, respectively. While that is the biggest drop, it is not a unique phenomenon with the one pitch. The percentage on his four seamer reads 31.3/14.3. The only consistent pitch in terms on hard hit percentage is his sinker at 34.5/33/3.
The difference in almost any stat is emphasized by Hill’s slider. In terms on swing and miss percentage, the righty/lefty difference on that pitch is 22.5/35.4. There is a near 10 MPH difference in exit velocity too.
Tim Hill in 2019
This changeup could make a real difference in Hill’s performance. If he can be a reliable out-getter of both righties and lefties, then his 70 games will turn into a lot more than just 45 innings of work. It will also go a long way in improving the Kansas City Royals bullpen performance.
Hill could very well see an immediate improvement, but it might take some time for him to become confident in the pitch. As he gets more confident he might use it more, and become more and more successful. It is common, but a changeup is a truly hard pitch to master.
The Kansas City Royals could really benefit from Hill getting both-handed hitters out. Either way, he will more than likely have a spot on the Opening Day roster.