Very important and highly-effective Chicago Cubs starter Jason Hammel left last night’s game after the first inning, clearly with some discomfort. The discomfort, it turns out, was the lower portion of his left hamstring, behind his knee.
Hammel says he felt a sharp pain behind his knee when he landed on his second pitch (Cubs.com, CSN, ESPN). He was able to finish the inning – though folks watching could tell something was off – and came into the dugout with the hopes of stretching things out and continuing. He said that didn’t work, and that’s when he was pulled from the game.
Hammel will get an MRI today, and hopefully it’s just a minor hamstring issue, not anything bundled up with the knee (or a more serious hamstring strain). Given the Cubs’ already-existing desire and need for starting pitching, you can expect that the publicly-released description of Hammel’s injury will probably be as softly and positively phrased as possible. The real indicator of health will be when he actually throws again, and/or when he’s officially scheduled to make his next start.
Since we don’t really know anything right now, I won’t get into doom and gloom scenarios – you already know that the Cubs’ rotation depth is such that, losing one of their front four starters would be a serious blow.
With the All-Star break approaching, Hammel was not scheduled to start again until July 19 or so, which is a good 10 days away. The Cubs could push him all the way back to July 21, and he wouldn’t miss a turn in the rotation. That’s a whole lot of rest time that wouldn’t cost the Cubs or Hammel any starts. Again, we’ll see how serious the injury is, but that’s an enormous silver lining.