The KC Royals sidearm specialist saw his share of struggles in 2019 but managed to turn his season around to become a more reliable bullpen arm.
Welcome back to the Kings of Kauffman 2020 KC Royals season previews. We are working our way through 30 different Royals that fans will likely see during the 2020 season. We will take a look at their previous seasons, some expectations for 2020, and any other pertinent information. This time, we are looking at Tim Hill.
What did he offer last season?
The 2019 season did not get off to a great start for Tim Hill, so he was right in line with the rest of the Royals bullpen. The two games he saw in March were fairly smooth, giving up some walks, but no hits or runs. April was not as smooth. He managed the first few games he saw fine, but his ERA quickly shot up to 9.00 for the month.
Hill was sent down to the minors to get everything sorted out, and he did just that. When he came back up in June, he saw just a few innings but was able to start chipping away at his ERA. Then in July, the gloves were off. Hill saw 11 games, recording 8.1 innings, giving up 2 runs, walking 3 and striking out 7 for a monthly ERA of 2.16.
He saw a little more struggle in August when adding more innings to his plate, but again found his footing in September when he managed 11.1 innings, gave up 3 runs, walked 2, and struck out 15.
Hill ended the season with 46 games and 39.2 innings, an ERA of 3.63 and an FIP of 3.84. At times he struggled to keep teams from scoring on him, but as the season went on, he found his form and managed to put up decent numbers for the season.
What should we expect in 2020?
B-Ref: 49.0 IP, 4.41 ERA, 48 SO, 17 BB
FG: 60.0 IP, 3.93 ERA, 52 K, 22B
Both predictions are fairly safe. Hill has shown a great deal of consistency in his walk and strikeout ratios over the two years he has been at the major league level, and even throughout the minors. Baseball-Reference seems to think he will regress a bit and see more innings than 2019, but still not a large amount compared to some relievers.
The innings, though, could always be effected by the fact that hill is a specialist of sorts. He often comes into games with one or two outs and runners on. FanGraphs has him at the most innings of his major league career, but right in the middle as far as ERA goes. Either way, by these predictions, Hill will still likely be a fairly reliable bullpen arm compared to the last few years of Royals pitchers.
Hill has put together two decent seasons so far for the Royals. While he has seen some struggles in each, that’s typical of a player in their first few seasons at the major league level. A huge positive for Hill is that when it seems he is struggling, he is typically able to make the corrections and get back on track.
He will likely be a front runner for a bullpen spot as he has proven his worth. While he is typically used in specific situations, his ability to keep the ball on the ground and let the defense do the work is perfect for a team like the Royals.
Hill will be 30 going into the 2020 season, but he doesn’t have a great deal of service time and his arm has not been used near as much as a typical pitcher his age. The Royals need pitchers that they can rely on, and that is what Hill has started to become.
As long as he can continue his progression and put past struggles on the mound behind him, Hill will be one of the staples of the bullpen in 2020 and likely for some time in the future.
Continue to follow along with us as we keep working through the 2020 season previews.