Chicago Cubs: Cole Hamels is just what this team needed at the deadline

jmurray
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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When the Chicago Cubs acquired Cole Hamels at the deadline, they needed a reliable middle-of-the-rotation arm. He’s done that – and more – in two starts.

Early in the season, when trade rumors connected the Chicago Cubs to veteran Cole Hamels, more than a few were skeptical. Hamels is 34 years old and struggled with the Texas Rangers this season. His 11.12 ERA in July hardly sparked interest in the left-hander.

However, the Cubs front office was willing to take a chance on Hamels for a fairly low price. They knew what he had achieved in the past: four All-Star selections, a no-hitter and a World Series MVP award in 2008 with the Philadelphia Phillies.

And after all, the Cubs knew they did not necessarily need Hamels to be an ace for them. They needed someone better than Tyler Chatwood, which set a fairly low bar.

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Just as expected

So far in his two starts in a Cubs uniform, Hamels has been just that: exactly what the Cubs were looking for.

In his first outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he went five innings, allowing just one unearned run on three hits and striking out nine. Then, last night against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium, he provided a bit more length, tossing six innings and allowing one run on seven hits and striking out two.

More importantly, in his two starts, Hamels has walked just three batters—a significant step up from Chatwood’s league-worst 8.1 walks per nine innings this season.

Sure, Hamels could ideally provide more length, but that could come with time. So far, he has been a solid number four starter the Cubs can count on when his spot comes up in the rotation. If he can provide more length down the stretch, he could be exactly what the Cubs were looking for—and at a very low price of a High-A pitcher, Eddie Butler and a player to be named later.

Potential for greatness

So far, Hamels has been great in a Cubs uniform, as he has allowed just one earned run. And he could be even better down the stretch. He has the postseason experience of pitching in big games in the fall, and he will have the opportunity to do so for the Cubs as they fight for a division title and later, a pennant and another World Series title.

The immediate comparison that is easy to look to is Justin Verlander, who the Houston Astros acquired at the waiver trade deadline last season. Like Hamels, Verlander was 34 at the time and hadn’t exactly lit the world on fire early in the season. His first-half ERA of 4.73 from last year is similar to Hamels’ first-half ERA of 4.36 this season.

However, Verlander was traded to the Astros, and you know the rest of the story. He ended up with a 1.06 ERA with Houston and won a World Series ring. This season, that success has continued, as he earned an All-Star selection and has a 2.19 ERA in early August.

Naturally, it’s easy for Cubs fans to compare the two, especially after Hamels has succeeded in his first two starts as a Cub. And while there is still the possibility that Hamels finds similar success, even if he doesn’t, he could be enough for the Cubs. If he can consistently do what he has so far, he will be extremely valuable to Chicago.

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Hamels has shown the potential for greatness throughout his past, and that is likely a large part of what attracted the Cubs front office to him as a rotation option. And while it’s easy to compare his situation to Verlander, even if he isn’t up to that standard, he can still be exactly what the Cubs need him to be.

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