Chicago Cubs: Cole Hamels pitches first complete game of 2018

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs starting pitching has not been able to rack up a lot of deep outings. That is, until Cole Hamels went the distance on Thursday night.

Many Chicago Cubs fans were iffy when Theo Esptein made the deal to get a struggling Cole Hamels from Texas. Not to say those feelings were not warranted, he had a 4.72 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 114 1/3 innings with the Rangers. Fast forward to Aug. 23 and Cubs fans were standing and cheering him at Wrigley Field as he pitched a complete game against the Cincinnati Reds.

Hamels’ complete game was the first pitched by a Cub this season and only the 12th by an NL starter in 2018. In five starts as a Cub, Hamels has a 0.79 ERA, 0.941 WHIP, 30 strikeouts and eight walks in 34 innings. In his last three outings, he went at least seven innings and has given up one run or less.

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Yes, the sample size is still relatively small, but each start he makes increases the confidence in him. Sometimes a change of scenery does wonders to a struggling veteran. It is also important to remember that Hamels has had an exceptional career with a career 3.40 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 2,510 2/3 innings. His presence is very important now considering Yu Darvish will not be able to pitch again this season.

Breaking down Cole Hamels’ complete game.

The final line for Hamels against the Reds Thursday night: nine innings, one earned run, eight hits, seven strikeouts and two walks on 114 pitches. Note that he threw 24 pitches in the first inning when the Reds hit a few bloops and scratched across their one run, but only threw 90 pitches the rest of the way.

All of his seven strikeouts were of the swinging variety and threw a total of 76 strikes (67 percent). He was pretty fastball heavy throughout the game and got a lot of early hacks from the Reds batters, which helped his efficiency. Seven total groundouts off Hamels, including two double plays. A total of three double plays were turned, one on a lineout.

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This complete game was almost not. An infield single, walk and liner single in the ninth that loaded the bases looked like his outing may be over after 8 1/3 innings. On a 3-2 pitch, he got Tucker Barnhart to ground into a 5-3 double play. A great performance to seal a 7-1 victory.