With their backs against the wall at the non-waiver trade deadline, the Chicago Cubs pulled the trigger on a veteran many thought was past his prime. Wrong.
It’s been said countless times over the years. ‘Sometimes a change of scenery can do a ball player a lot of good’. I, myself, have said that more times than I can count. The trade that brought Cole Hamels to the Chicago Cubs proves it yet again.
Everyone knew the Chicago Cubs were looking for starting pitching at the trade deadline. Rumors connected them to multiple teams and varying levels of arms. But, as we all know, the club swooped in and acquired Hamels and cash in exchange for pitcher Eddie Butler, two lower-level prospects and an additional player to be named later.
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In the grand scheme of things, the Cubs got a struggling mid-30s starter for nothing just hoping that he could eat innings and be another veteran leader in a still relatively young clubhouse.
Heck, I don’t think ‘great’ is a strong enough word to describe how terrific Cole Hamels has been since donning the Cubs’ pinstripes. In his first five starts, he boasts a 4-0 record, 0.79 ERA, 30 strikeouts – and has only allowed 24 hits in his 34 innings.
On top of all that, he tossed a 113-pitch complete game against the Reds on Aug. 23. His effort marked the first complete game thrown by a Cubs starter since José Quintana accomplished the feat against the Brewers last Sept. 24.
Pitching like an ace – sound familiar?
Does the 2017 version of Justin Verlander come to mind when you look at Cole Hamels?
Think about it. Verlander struggled severely in 2017 while with Detroit. The Tigers were the doormat of the AL Central, but then he found his Cy Young form again. In his first five starts, Verlander 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 34 innings.
This may be one of those questions we never really get an answer to. If I had to guess, I’d say because of their ‘Major League upbringing.’
When Hamels and Verlander were first brought up to the majors, the Phillies and Tigers were both well-positioned to compete for a World Series championship, and Hamels won one.
Winning is just embedded in them and when they experienced the displeasure of losing, their attitudes changed. They couldn’t accept the fact that they were losing and there wasn’t too much they could do.
Regardless of why this happened, the Cubs and their fans are glad it did. Cole Hamels has added stability to a starting rotation that hasn’t had it for the majority of the season – outside of Jon Lester. And even he hit some bumps in the road post-All-Star Break.
If he continues performing at this level, he’ll be one of the critical pieces of the Cubs down the stretch, in the postseason and, probably, in 2019.