Chicago Cubs hoping Cole Hamels gets back on track Wednesday

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Cole Hamels hasn’t been the same guy since returning from an oblique injury – or when he pitches on the road. Are the Chicago Cubs in trouble Wednesday?

After Cole Hamels came to the Chicago Cubs last summer, you generally felt pretty good when his name was listed in the probables. That remained the case for much of this season – that is, until the veteran southpaw returned from a midseason oblique injury.

Since coming back on Aug. 3, Hamels carries a bloated 7.12 ERA in seven starts. Opponents have hit him hard – to the tune of a .348 average and .977 OPS . Furthermore, he is yet to pitch seven innings in a start since that point, something he did in five straight starts leading up to his injury.

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After his latest clunker, in which he allowed five runs to the rival Brewers in just 3 1/3 innings of work, Hamels owned his recent failures when speaking with the Chicago Tribune.

“Time is ticking, and this is why I’m here — to get the job done and continue to put good games out there for this team, to give them an opportunity to win, and I’m not doing so,” Hamels told reporters last weekend.

If Hamels and the Cubs thought the clock was ticking then, they’re sure to realize their situation heading into Wednesday night’s contest.

On the heels of Tuesday’s loss, Chicago  sits four games back of first-place St. Louis and 2 1/2 back of Washington for the first NL Wild Card spot. Both the Nationals and Cardinals lost Tuesday, making the Cubs’ late-inning loss hurt even more.

Not only are they chasing those two teams – but the Brewers, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Mets are all within three games of the Cubs for the final Wild Card spot in the National League. At this point, Fangraphs pegs the team’s playoff odds at 60.9 percent – and odds for the NL Central at just 18.6 percent.

Fans and commentators alike pointed to this week as the club’s big opportunity to get right back in the thick of things – and perhaps give themselves some breathing room in the race for the final Wild Card spot. Chicago has two more games in San Diego before welcoming the woeful Pirates to town this weekend. These are games you essentially have to win at this point.

Getting back on track starts at Petco Park in Hamels’ hometown of San Diego – where he will enjoy having some family and friends in the stands for his start. Will that be enough to help him settle in early and give the bats a chance? Maybe.

"“Experience helps with being able to at least identifying and grinding away and competing, as opposed to getting out of your rhythm and fighting to get back within something you’re comfortable.”"

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Hamels has been particularly egregious on the road this year, as well – putting up a pretty awful 5.66 ERA and 1.689 WHIP away from the Friendly Confines (compare that to 2.66 and 1.143 at home). It’s now or never – the clock is ticking – both on the Cubs’ playoff hopes and, maybe, Hamels’ time as a member of the team.