Garrett Hill wins in MLB debut
Fans of the Detroit Tigers won’t have too many positive memories of the 2022 campaign thus far, but on the fourth of July they did have something more to celebrate than just the independence of the United States. The Tigers managed to sweep the Cleveland Guardians in a double-header on Monday and saw rookie pitcher Garrett Hill shine in his Major League Baseball debut.
The 26-year-old was called up after impressing in the minor leagues this year, putting up a 3.23 ERA and 98 strikeouts over 69 2/3 innings between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo. He became the 14th pitcher this season to start a game for the Tigers, but the first in franchise history to throw for six or more innings while allowing only two hits or fewer in his MLB debut.
“I’ve tried to get to this level and live out my dream,” Hill said following the victory at Comerica Park on Monday, via TSN.ca “I was pleased with all of it. I was able to stay super calm. I was happy with my preparation and everything.”
Considering that the league has gone back to playing full nine-inning double-header games again after switching to seven-inning double-headers for the past couple of seasons due to COVID, the Tigers needed all the help they could get on Monday from their starting pitchers. With the bullpen already stretched thin, the team were desperate for a strong outing from their starter and they certainly got it from Hill in the first game.
“So many guys we’ve been leaning on, guys that we weren’t necessarily counting on coming out of Spring Training,” Tigers catcher Tucker Barnhart said, via MLB.com. “Their ability to come in and hit the ground running and take on a big role for us and pitch well has been awesome. I can’t say enough good things. The composure that our young guys have, I can’t say that I’ve seen it a lot.”
Hill was selected 26th overall by the Tigers during the 2018 MLB Draft but was never called up to the big leagues prior to Monday. Despite only playing one game with Detroit, he has already left quite the impression on his teammates.
“He handled himself so well,” Barnhart commented. “It was extremely impressive to watch him work. He seemed very stoic, and he threw a lot of strikes. It’s no secret [the Guardians] have the highest contact rate in baseball, and when you have a lineup like that, to go in and try to punch a bunch of guys out would probably be the bad way to go about it. He did exactly what we talked about, pitched to contact. He threw all his pitches in the zone for strikes.”
Hill has a mix of five different pitches which should be a big asset for the youngster as he tries to become a consistent starter with the Tigers.
“That was really fun, watching him go to work and prepare,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch remarked. “It’s a dream come true for him, and then to go out and methodically work through his day, super composed, very prepared, very smart with how he went about his business, really, really fun to have him stay in there against a heavy contact team and keep us in the game.”
With a 32-47 record, Detroit still have a long way to go before they make any sort of playoff push, but the franchise seems to be heading in the right direction with potential future stars such as Hill.