Cole Hamels was one of the big names traded prior to the MLB trade deadline, as he was acquired by the Chicago Cubs from the Texas Rangers. It was a move that brought a lot of hype with it, not necessarily because of the numbers that Hamels had produced this season, but for the track record that comes with the pitcher.
Now that the Cubs have seen Hamels make his debut with the team, it became apparent that Theo Epstein knew exactly what he was doing when he pulled the trigger on the trade.
Right off the bat, Hamels showed that his rumored velocity issues were not a real thing. He consistently gunned his fastball across the plate at around 95 miles per hour and sometimes up to 96. Hamels showcased his dangerous changeup and caught Pittsburgh Pirates’ batters looking on multiple occasions.
When everything was said and done, Hamels posted 5.0 innings of work with nine strikeouts, no earned runs, and just two walks. He let in one unearned run and allowed just three hits in the game.
At 34-years-old, Hamels still has plenty of baseball left in the tank. Being traded to the team that he rooted for growing up seems to have rejuvenated him a bit. Following his first outing with the Cubs, Hamels talked about joining the entertaining Cubs and wanting to win a World Series, as shared by the Chicago Tribune.
“The job is done, this is the team, and this is what I plan on doing, and this is where I want to go to the championship. To get that out of the way keeps things more lively. But at the same time, it gives a good direction.”
The Cubbies’ newest member. Check out the new threads for Cole Hamels. pic.twitter.com/P6j2umRE3l— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) August 2, 2018
Prior to being traded to the Cubs, Hamels had struggled with the Rangers. Part of the issue was the hitter-friendly ballpark in Texas. Hamels had a 5-9 record with the Rangers to go along with a 4.72 ERA.
Chicago has the talent to make another run at the World Series this season. They have the offensive firepower to outscore any opponent in a series and their pitching should be solid come playoff time. If Yu Darvish can come back healthy, the Cubs’ rotation is going to be difficult to beat.
Hamels is joined by Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks, and Mike Montgomery currently. Darvish would likely take Montgomery’s spot in the rotation when he comes back. Recent reports have stated that Darvish felt the best he has felt in weeks after his last pitching workout.
Joe Maddon has the most talent in his rotation that he has had in a long time. Hamels has a proven track record of playoff success and even won the MVP for both the NLCS and World Series back in 2008 with the Philadelphia Phillies. Having that kind of pedigree was important for Epstein’s trade deadline decisions.
While Hamels isn’t the main piece that will decide the Cubs’ fate, he is exactly what the doctor ordered for a drawn-out playoff series against a team with a good rotation.
Expect to see the Cubs continue to play top-notch baseball throughout the remainder of the season. They are a more consistent team than they were last year, although there are still some question marks. If Kris Bryant can get back to full health, the Cubs are going to be extremely dangerous come playoff time.