Over the weekend, the Marlins quietly made a strong move to solidify pitching depth for the team. The Marlins signed Shawn Hill to a minor league deal that would pay him $600K this season if he makes it to the major leagues. As a fan of the Marlins and a normal, law-abiding baseball fan, you probably have never heard of Shawn Hill, but a simple look through FanGraphs would show that Hill is a surprisingly decent pitcher. His 4.74 career ERA is a bit deceiving as it tags along with a pretty impressive 4.02 FIP and 4.34 xFIP. Both of those numbers look pretty good for a guy with a strong sinker (48.9% GB% career). He does have a .317 career BABIP, but that mark is only in 239 IP and 1056 batters faced
Of course, those innings pitched and batters faced numbers should also tell you that Hill is injury prone to say the least. Hill has gone through two Tommy John surgeries and numerous other injuries that have prevented him from putting up a full season as a starter. If the Marlins were depending on him to show up for significant innings this season, that would be a terrible mistake.
But the Marlins aren’t depending on Hill to do anything but play in Triple-A. As a result, the move is a completely risk-free pickup with good upside. If one of the Marlins’ right handers in the starting corps or the pen gets injured, Hill can be the immediate replacement and pitch quality innings for a short stretch. Out of the bullpen, I suspect he would pitch similarly to Burke Badenhop, who is also a right-handed sinker/slider pitcher with bad lefty splits and a high ground ball rate. If that’s the case, Hill’s best option would be to play a ROOGY role out of the bullpen with the possibility of assisting Badenhop in making spot or emergency starts. Either way, Hill’s strong peripherals point to a decent player who could use an opportunity in the majors. I applaud the signing by the Marlins.