On Thursday evening, the Chicago Cubs strengthened their depleted rotation by adding former All-Star Cole Hamels. They gave up virtually nothing, an A ball prospect and a player to be named later. Not to mention, the Rangers will be covering most of Hamels salary.
The issue is Cole Hamels has not been particularly good recently. He has a 6.41 ERA in Arlington, but only a 2.93 ERA on the road. The hope here is that a change of scenery is exactly what the veteran needed.
I have a lot of thoughts on this so bear with me. The greatest part of this entire trade is that Cubs fans will hopefully not have to see Tyler Chatwood start another game this season. He has done for more damage than good. He taxes the bullpen every 5th day and loves walks more than your girlfriend does. Hamels is an upgrade over Chatwood, if you take anything from the trade please remember that.
This also allows the Cubs to possibly employ a 6 man rotation if/when Yu Darvish arises from the dead. The kicker here is Darvish seems to only have good throwing sessions nowadays. He doesn’t actually pitch anymore, GREAT at throwing sessions though! A six man rotation of Lester, Hendricks, Quintana, Darvish, Hamels, and Montgomery will give the starters the break they need heading into October. This also allows Montgomery to return to the bullpen come October. He has been a staple to Cubs success the past few seasons coming out of the pen.
If you gain anything from this, Hamels over Chatwood every 5th day and Monty in the pen in October. That alone makes this trade a gigantic win.
Now, no one really knows exactly what to expect from Hamels. He has struggled mightily since he has arrived in Texas. His ERA was 3.27 his last year in Philly, it has gone up every year since joining the Rangers. Worst case, he fills in for Chatwood, provides more innings, and allows more rest for the bullpen. Pretty solid worst case if you ask me. Best case, the Cubs traded virtually nothing for a former World Series MVP that hopefully regains form with a change of scenery.
Which leads me to my final question, is this enough for the Cubs to win the World Series? On paper, that answer is no. The Cubs acquired a veteran who has struggled a lot. Odds are, he will not contribute much come October. The optimistic side of things say this could make a huge difference come October. I previously mentioned this guy was a World Series MVP a while back. He also was NLCS MVP that exact same season. The man knows how to pitch in October. Sure, DeGrom would have made the Cubs instant favorites to win the World Series. It also likely would have led to the Cubs parting way with part of their core.
Theo and Jed know exactly what they are doing. They have transformed a consistent loser into a team that has made it to the Championship Series three years in a row. This team currently has the best record in the National League. They are well on their way to another postseason appearance and likely another division championship. The offense is unbeatable when they are on. They have one of the best defenses in the majors. The bullpen has been rock solid. The pitching staff will hopefully come around in the next few months.
Enjoy this ride Cubs fans, soak it all in. These windows only last so long. Remember what it felt like to constantly be made fun of, now anything less than a World Series is a disappointment. This team has no quit and it should be a very fun few months.