During his brief stint in pinstripes, Nestor Cortes Jr. was known for fooling hitters with his funky arm angles and eating innings in a pinch. Since the Yankees dealt him to the Seattle Mariners, they no longer have an arm like his in their bullpen. However, Mark Feinsand has reported on Twitter that the Bombers do have their eye on someone similar to Cortes’ style.
Tim Hill made his major-league debut in 2018 with the Kansas City Royals and put up some solid numbers. He appeared in 45.2 innings, recording 42 strikeouts and an xFIP of 3.31. He had very similar stats this past season, handling 39.2 frames, striking out 39 batters, and running an xFIP of 3.89. In fact, in 2018, he led the Royals in appearances with 70. He is known for his toughness on left-handed hitters, as they have hit a mere .211/.276/.248 against him throughout his career. He’s also allowed just eight long balls in his career, which is great for someone who could call Yankee Stadium home.
He throws his sinker most often, but is also equipped with a four-seamer and a slider, giving him a useful arsenal as a reliever. As mentioned by Feinsand, Hill carries four years of control with him, plausibly making him an attractive long-term target.
Hill’s not known for overpowering opposing batters. In 2019, his fastball and sinker averaged about 90 mph, while his slider clocked in around 80 mph. Instead, he uses his funky submarine delivery from the left side to deceive hitters and keep them in an uncomfortable position. Check it out:
Here’s some Tim Hill video pic.twitter.com/tp9czeevOC— Hoodie Gleyber (@HoodieGleyber) November 27, 2019
He’s mostly been used in low-leverage situations thus far, and could profile as a middle-innings guy or a lefty specialist. Hill could also be an interesting option should the Yankees use an opener strategy, as Hill’s unique delivery could make him a difficult player to adjust to either as a follower or opener.
New York already sports one of the best bullpens in all of baseball. Adding someone who could pitch in a variety of roles, rack up a few strikeouts, and keep the ball in the park would just make the unit even deeper. Plus, Hill could provide a vastly different look from the rest of the Yankees’ relievers, who mostly throw gas, and don’t show opposing hitters the kind of tough release Hill brings.
Trading for Hill wouldn’t require the Yankees to yield top prospects, but because of his highly team-friendly contract terms, the Royals could get some decent value out of him. He certainly wouldn’t be the splashiest acquisition, but after working magic with little-known position players last year, Hill could be the kind of depth piece that helps the Yankees on the pitching side going forward.
While the Yankees may be looking to use Hill in the same role Cortes had in 2019, he may have some untapped potential that new pitching coach Matt Blake can exploit in hopes of giving him more opportunities as time goes on. Keep on an eye on Hill in the coming days to see if the Yankees make the move.