There were a lot of eyes on Chicago Cubs starter Cole Hamels Wednesday night in his debut. By the time he finished his night of work, things looked good.
Many people had a good chuckle Wednesday night when Cole Hamels stepped to the plate before even throwing a pitch. It was the beginning of Hamels’ Chicago Cubs career, and that at-bat was kicked off an overall successful night for the 34-year-old lefty.
Hamels faced a red-hot Pittsburgh Pirates offense that had done damage against Jon Lester the night before. Overall he threw five innings of one-run ball (unearned) on three hits, two walks and nine strikeouts on 95 pitches. Two of the three hits he gave up came in the first inning.
He had the luxury of having an early 4-0 lead as he made his first pitch and did not ever have to work from behind. The Cubs won the game 9-2.
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Evaluating his outing
There is no doubt Hamels labored a bit, he threw over 20 pitches in the first, but overall the stuff looked good. He was hitting 92-94 MPH on his fastball consistently and his changeup was getting a lot of swings-and-misses.
The fastball velocity was a really good to see considering he saw dips in it throughout the season. It’s worth noting he maxed out at 96 MPH on a fastball – his fastest in two years.
Fifty-seven of his 95 pitches were strikes and though he saw a number of full counts limiting the Pirates to the two walks was big. The Cubs starting staff has the second-highest BB/9 (4.21) in baseball, and seeing a 2:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio is refreshing.
Speaking of his strikeouts, seven were swinging and two were looking. Six of his swinging-Ks were on the changeup. When Hamels is having success, he typically gets a lot of strikeouts via the off-speed stuff.
All in all, a very solid job by Hamels. He was not getting lucky, he was legitimately fooling Pirates batters and did not give up a lot of hard contact. The most important part was that his stuff looked very sharp in terms of velocity and movement.
Hopefully his next time out he can keep the pitch-count down, though some miscues by the defense did prolong a few innings on top of some grinding Pirates at-bats.
Lastly, congrats to Hamels on his first base hit since 2016!