July 28, 2015
By David Driver
Used with permission
ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Taylor Hill, 26, has been bouncing back and forth between Triple-A Syracuse and the Washington Nationals this season.
His latest move on Syracuse-Washington shuttle came July 9 when he was sent back to the International League by the Nationals after veteran Major League reliever David Carpenter came off the paternity list.
Mt. Juliet High graduate Hill has pitched out of the bullpen for the most part while in Washington during the past two seasons. But he is used as a starter at Syracuse.
Hill is 3-5 with an ERA of 4.92 in 15 starts going into his scheduled start on Tuesday for the Chiefs. In 82 1/3 innings for the Chiefs he has given up 107 hits and 15 walks with 44 strikeouts.
This year for Washington he is 0-0 with an ERA of 3.75 in six games and 12 innings. Last year in three games for the Nationals, with one start, he was 0-1 with an ERA of 9.00.
In his last start for Syracuse he allowed four hits and two runs in six innings against Buffalo and was tagged with the loss. He has given up 11 hits in two starts for the Chiefs this year.
“The stats would say it is not going well,” Hill said before a recent game here against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the top farm club of the Philadelphia Phillies. “But my arm feels good and I feel my location is getting better. A couple of unlucky breaks and some bad pitches. When it goes bad it goes bad.”
Hill said one problem since he came back to Syracuse was the first inning in some of his starts.
“After that I have been all right. My next start I want to focus on being locked on and making it click,” said Hill, slated to start at home tonight against Buffalo, the top farm team of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Hill was drafted in the sixth round out of Vanderbilt in 2011 by the Nationals and made his big league debut in 2014. He began this year as the No. 16 prospect in the Washington system, according to Baseball America.
Some may feel there is less pressure pitching in the minors than in the majors, where winning is paramount. But players in the minors also having the pressure of wanting to get back to The Show.
“I wouldn’t say it is relaxing. That is not the right word,” Hill said. “It is definitely easier to work on stuff here. Sometimes it is hard to work on stuff when you are in a pressure situation and you want to get out of (a tough inning) and do what you do best” to do that.
Hill said he did not get a mandate from Washington manager Matt Williams or pitching coach Steve McCatty the last time he was sent from the Nationals to Syracuse.
“They really didn’t say anything. I was the odd man out and that is part of it,” Hill said of being dropped from the active 25-man roster. “Just go down and pitch and hopefully I will get to go back.”
Editor’s note: David Driver can be reached at www.davidsdriver.com