After a successful rehab outing on Sunday, Cole Hamels could join the Chicago Cubs at the end of this week, rounding out the team’s rotation.
The Chicago Cubs acquired veteran reliever David Phelps from Toronto on Tuesday in efforts to bolster their shaky bullpen. Whether he creates the impact the Cubs’ intend him to make remains to be seen.
And yes, while a shaky bullpen is quite problematic, especially for a contending team, the Cubs starting pitching also has some room to improve. Fortunately, the team’s starting rotation will be bolstered with the return of lefty Cole Hamels.
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The four time All-Star last pitched on June 28 in Cincinnati, but left the game after one inning with a left oblique strain. This is Hamels’ second such injury in the past few seasons.
Before being sidelined, the 35-year-old left-hander was arguably the team’s best starter and played a huge role in keeping the team at the top of the NL Central. There is no dismissing the fact the Cubs have struggled without Hamels. Not only did he go 6-3 with a 2.98 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, but he also had 97 strikeouts in 99 2/3 innings.
He’s also been pretty solid away from Wrigley Field, which is something most players on this team cannot say. On the year, Hamels carries a 3.42 ERA and 1.310 WHIP in road starts.
On Sunday afternoon, the southpaw turned in his second rehab start with Triple-A Iowa and his success showed that he could be in line to take his place back with the Cubs in Chicago. Though he gave up three runs in the first inning, Hamels immediately threw two scoreless innings to follow. When it was all said and done, he threw 59 pitches, 36 going for strikes.
With three walks, his command might not be totally intact, but Hamels seemed to be feeling healthy, which is essential to his upcoming return to the bigs. He is set to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday and should take his place in the Cubs starting rotation on Aug. 2 to open a critical set against the Brewers at Wrigley.
Last season, we saw what kind of impact Hamels is capable of making down the stretch. He won National League Pitcher of the Month last August and really shored up a staff in desperate need of reinforcements. Could he do the same again this summer? We’ll soon find out.