MIAMI — Left-hander Rich Hill made his major league debut against the Marlins, but so much has changed since then.
Hill made his debut on June 2015 against a team that was then known as the Florida Marlins.
On Saturday, Hill faces the Miami Marlins, and he will do so in the middle of a career year. The 36-year-old was acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers in a five-player deal that the Oakland A's completed on Aug. 1.
Hill was immediately placed on the disabled list due to a blister issue. But once he got over that, he pitched six scoreless innings in a 1-0 win over the San Francisco Giants.
“The big thing is staying in the moment,” Hill told the media after that start. “I just had to focus on each pitch coming out of my hand.”
Last Saturday, Hill made his second Dodgers start, and he did not disappoint, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning. In the end, Hill struck out eight, allowed just one hit and tossed six scoreless innings.
He enters Saturday's game against the Marlins with career numbers for 2016 — an 11-3 record with a 1.94 ERA.
Not bad for a guy who has bounced around to eight different major league organizations, and that does not count two different stints with the Boston Red Sox.
Hill's career appeared to be over last year, when he was released by the Washington Nationals on June 24. Hill found no takers and signed with an independent minor league team — the Long Island Ducks — in order to try to keep his career alive.
A couple of weeks later, the Red Sox signed him, and then the A's gave him a chance for the 2016 season.
Hill, who did not start a single game for five years — 2010 to 2014 — is one win away from a career high in victories. His ERA is miles ahead of what he normally does given his career mark of 4.15.
Now comes the Marlins, a team he has only faced twice — during that rookie relief appearance in 2005 when he allowed two runs in one inning or during an ill-fated start in 2009.
Hill is in a much better grove now, and he will look to get the best of Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler, who started this year as Miami's fourth starter but has pitched better than that.
In fact, after Jose Fernandez, Koehler has been Miami's second-best starting pitcher. In his past 15 starts, Koehler is 4-4 with a 3.54 ERA.
“We want 'TK' to keep it going,” Fernandez said after he beat the Dodgers 4-1 on Friday night. “We need every win we can get.”
Indeed, the Marlins (70-71) have a modest two-game win streak after a slump that saw them lose 10 of 12 games.
Due to that slump, they're on the fringes of contention for an NL wild-card playoff berth that is shaping up as a battle between the New York Mets, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. As it stands now, two of those three teams will make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers (79-61), who had their five-game win streak snapped on Friday, still lead the Giants comfortably in the NL West.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he thinks the fact that three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw came off the disabled list on Friday to face the Marlins — even in a losing effort — will pay dividends for his team down the stretch.
“It's a huge boost to our team,” Roberts said. “We've got to take the long view and understand that this was a win for him and for us.”