Chicago Cubs: Cole Hamels turns in another big-time clunker

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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In his return to Philadelphia, veteran Chicago Cubs left-hander Cole Hamels turned in arguably his worst start since joining the team.

Since joining the Chicago Cubs, Cole Hamels has been arguably the most consistent starters for manager Joe Maddon. Unfortunately, he’s hit a bump in the road with the team in the midst of the dog days of August in a neck-and-neck battle for a division crown.

Wednesday marked his second poor outing in three starts since coming off the injured list – and it was a doozy. The southpaw lasted just two innings, allowing eight runs on nine hits. To say the least, it was hardly the return he’d anticipated.

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"“You can’t keep putting up games like I’ve done the last two games,” Hamels told MLB.com. That’s not the person that I am, and those aren’t the expectations that I hold on myself. The game of baseball is fickle, and you just have to constantly make adjustments and constantly try to be better.”"

Over his last two starts, Hamels has been downright awful. He’s allowed a dozen runs – but more importantly, he lasted a grand total of five innings. That’s particularly problematic given the array of bullpen injuries the Cubs are dealing with now, including their three biggest arms: Steve Cishek, Brandon Morrow and closer Craig Kimbrel.

Team’s veteran hurlers struggling

It’s not just Hamels who’s been underperforming of late. Jon Lester hasn’t been himself, either – leaving a major void in the Cubs starting rotation. Of late, Jose Quintana and Yu Darvish have been more dependable than the club’s two veteran horses.

"“It’s just understanding why I’m getting these types of results out there, why the pitches are coming out the way that they are, and then just really correcting it,” Hamels said. “Things just don’t feel right. It’s just getting back to the right type of extension and release point, and everything will kind of follow.”"

The good news? Hamels’ next start will likely come at Wrigley Field next week, where he’s been near-unbeatable this season, pitching to a 2.35 ERA in nine starts. Meanwhile, away from the Friendly Confines, he’s limped to a 5.16 mark in 11 outings. On the road, opponents have hit .292 against him, while at home, they’ve struggled to a .219 mark.

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As Maddon said after the game, perhaps it’s just a matter of Hamels settling back into a groove coming off his IL stint. After all, he’s made just three starts since coming back. The Cubs better hope that’s all this is – because they have no chance of winning a division without a productive Cole Hamels in the mix.

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