Chicago Cubs can’t count on Cole Hamels to continue hot start

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Cole Hamels’ first two starts with the Chicago Cubs have been impressive, but his success won’t last through the postseason.

Since acquiring him on July 27, the Chicago Cubs have gotten two great starts from Cole Hamels. A low-risk move, the Cubs gave up lower-level prospects for the 34-year old. The Texas Rangers had no need for the veteran lefty, and the Cubs swooped in to add more competition to the rotation.

His two starts have ended in two wins and an ERA under 1.00. This is a far cry from his 4.72 ERA in Texas this season. We heard the rumors of his numbers being inflated due to the hitter-friendly Globe Life Park, and that seems to be true so far.

His two starts and Tyler Chatwood getting a long-deserved demotion have helped the Cubs. The team has struggled out of the blocks after the All-Star break, but Hamels has been a bright spot. Realistically, Hamels won’t be able to keep up his hot start, and won’t be the Cubs’ best pitcher for long.

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Hamels hit national radar in 2008 when he won NLCS and World Series MVP with the Philadelphia Phillies. Hamels went 3-0 in four starts between those two series and his reputation as a postseason pitcher began to pick up steam.

2011 would be his last postseason appearance in Philadelphia, and he was traded to the Rangers in 2015. In both 2015 and 2016, his Rangers lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALDS. Hamels was not as impressive with Texas, going 0-2 with an ERA of 5.40 in those three postseason starts.

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Since that 2016 appearance, both Hamels and the Rangers have been subpar. His ERA over the last two seasons is 4.28 and he has given up 41 home runs. His K/BB ratio has dipped from 3.77 in his career with Philadelphia, to 2.35.

The biggest issue with Hamels is that fans are expecting him to turn back the clock. According to FanGraphs, he’s getting hit harder than ever before this season. His line drive percentage is sitting at 24.2 percent. That means nearly a quarter of the contact he’s inducing results in the most difficult ball for a defense to field.

Another area of concern is his inability to consistently find the strike zone. In his career, Hamels has thrown 47 percent of his pitches in the strike zone. This season, that number is at 41 percent. This is leading to more walks and getting behind in counts.

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These issues don’t go away overnight. While his two starts have been good, we can’t expect it to continue. Facts are facts, and they say Hamels is an end-of-the-rotation arm at best, regardless of his success so far in Chicago.