Last week, the Chicago Cubs inked former Baltimore Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel to a one-year, $6 million contract, adding yet another arm to the rotation mix with less than two weeks until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in Mesa.
It appears the pack thinned in pursuit of Hammel due to concerns over his health, according to Buster Olney of ESPN, but the Cubs prevailed and added a solid middle-to-rear of the rotation arm. Hammel missed time last season due to elbow injuries, which raised speculation that he may be more prone to injury this season.
Hammel has been less-than-spectacular during his big league career, going 49-59 with a 4.80 earned run average over the course of 215 games, 158 of which were starts. He has allowed 1,082 base hits in 989 1/3 innings of work – leaving something to be desired in his abilities to miss bats.
Last season, Hammel went 7-8 in 23 starts and three relief appearances for Baltimore, while battling injuries. The season prior, 2012, saw the right-hander post the best season of his career, when he went 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 20 starts. That season showcased much of the promise that has surrounded Hammel since he was drafted back in the tenth round of the 2002 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
Hammel has already been compared to last offseason’s acquisition, Scott Feldman, in the fact that many believe Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will look to trade the right-hander near the midseason mark if he pitches well for Chicago during the season’s first half. But when you take a look at the two pitcher’s numbers side-by-side, they have more in common than being the latest sign-and-flip of the Cubs’ front office tandem.
During his eight seasons at the Major League level, Hammel, as mentioned, has pitched to the tune of a 49-59 record with a 4.80 ERA in 215 games. Feldman, on a similar note, has gone 51-56 with a 4.62 earned run average in 234 games. Hammel has a career WHIP of 1.440, compared to Feldman’s 1.370, a slightly better mark. Both pitchers allow just over one base hit per nine innings pitched.
The past several seasons have been a major step forward for Feldman, and the Cubs could very well be looking to repeat the haul that came from their trade of Feldman to the Baltimore Orioles last summer in their signing of Hammel.
If he can stay healthy and miss some bats, Hammel could be a very solid piece in the back of the Chicago rotation in the first half and could be turned into more young talent, albeit not top talent, at the Trade Deadline.