Cole Hamels hung up his spikes for good this weekend, closing the book on an accomplished 15-year MLB career. Known best for the decade he spent with the Phillies, the left-hander also pitched for the Cubs from 2018-2019 - but that's not the only reason Chicago carries significance when we look back at his time in the big leagues.
A first-round pick of Philadelphia back in 2002, Hamels made his debut four years later. The following year, he finished sixth in NL Cy Young voting, going 15-5 with a 3.39 ERA. Of course, everyone remembers that 2008 team for its World Series title - the first by the franchise since 1980, and Hamels played a key part in that team's success. He not only led the league with a 1.082 WHIP, but racked up nearly 230 innings of work in the regular season. Then, he won NLCS and World Series MVP honors, to boot.
2015 marked an important year for Hamels on multiple fronts. First, his time with the Phillies drew to a close. But a little over a month prior to that happening, he took the ball against the Cubs at Wrigley Field and made history, no-hitting the Cubs - the first time that had happened in a half-century. No Cubs fan will soon forget the diving catch of Odubel Herrera to end that affair, cementing Hamels' place in baseball history.
Prior to getting traded to the Rangers at the 2015 trade deadline, Hamels finished in the top 10 in Cy Young voting four times, amassing nearly 2,000 innings with the Phillies. In the Lone Star State, he tallied the final All-Star appearance of his career in 2016, and two years later, the Rangers sent him to the Cubs in a midseason trade that saw Eddie Butler head to Texas.
Cole Hamels brought needed stability, quality to the Cubs rotation
Hamels was brilliant down the stretch that summer, posting a 2.36 ERA in a dozen starts, allowing more than three earned just one time. Despite 95 wins in the regular season, though, the Cubs wound up squaring off with the Rockies in the NL Wild Card Game, losing 1-0 in extras. Hamels pitched out of the pen in that game, giving Joe Maddon a pair of scoreless frames in the loss.
The Cubs brought Hamels back via a $20 million option in 2019 and he was a solid member of the staff yet again, putting up a 3.81 ERA in 27 starts. Of course, Chicago missed the postseason that year for the first time since 2014, ending Maddon's tenure on the North Side and setting up the sell-off that came two years later. That offseason, Hamels signed a deal with the Braves, but injuries limited him to just one appearance - and he never again set foot on a big league mound.
Hamels isn't going to wind up in Cooperstown, but that shouldn't diminish what he accomplished in his career. A four-time All-Star with a World Series ring to his name, he was one of the most durable pitchers of his generation - worth remembering not only for his brief time with the Cubs, but for what he did against them nearly a decade ago.