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Hill's pitches deceptive for umps and hitters

Royals reliever proving effective with unique sidearm motion
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- American League hitters have had a tough time picking up pitches from Royals rookie left-hander Tim Hill.

Entering Wednesday's action, batters were hitting just .229 against Hill and striking out almost a hitter per inning.

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KANSAS CITY -- American League hitters have had a tough time picking up pitches from Royals rookie left-hander Tim Hill.

Entering Wednesday's action, batters were hitting just .229 against Hill and striking out almost a hitter per inning.

View Full Game Coverage

But do you know who else is having a tough time picking up Hill's pitches? Home-plate umpires.

According to Statcast™ charts of the strike zone, umpires already perhaps have missed 12 Hill pitches that were called balls but likely were strikes. Some were blatantly obvious, like the time in Cleveland when Hill issued a four-pitch walk although two of his two-seam fastballs clearly were inside the grid.

The Royals believe part of the problem is that Hill's effective and unique sidearm motion has caught umpires a little off-guard.

"All three of us, hitters, catchers and umpires are used to seeing pitches coming over the top," Royals catcher Drew Butera said. "Something that unique and different from Timmy may take some time to get used to.

"His ball is different. Sometimes it rises. Sometimes the sinker really drops high in the zone. He has so much movement on his ball from a unique angle. Umpires have a tough enough time as it is picking up the ball. It's a tough job for them."

Hill said he isn't upset about being squeezed.

"I just thought the zone was a little smaller up here," Hill said, shrugging his shoulders. "But most of the time they are pretty good up here."

When it was pointed out that at least one of his pitches that clearly seemed out of the zone was called a strike for him, Hill smiled and said, "You get some love, too."

Hill will be patient.

"I think the good thing is they probably watch video and they'll adjust," Hill said. "You know, it can be a coincidence, too. It's a small sample so far."

At any rate, Hill said he never really has noticed getting squeezed at other levels of professional baseball.

"I guess I never really thought about it personally," Hill said. "It's not like he didn't call my pitch. He just missed that pitch."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Tim Hill