jason hammel cubsSocial Media Night was lovely, and it was awesome to meet so many folks. Hopefully you tolerated my terrible selfies from the game.

  • Unfortunately it seems to keep happening for him, as Jason Hammel once again gave up a couple runs in a long first inning last night. From there, he settled into something of a groove, as he often does, but it would be nice to figure out what it is that allows teams to jump on him so quickly in these games. It wasn’t a bad outing in total last night, but it also wasn’t what you want to see from the likely number three heading into the playoffs. Since the early July hamstring injury, which may or may not have a relationship to any of this (but it’s a convenient line of demarcation), Hammel sports a 5.43 ERA, and a 4.78 FIP, but also a 3.95 xFIP. His strikeout rate (23.0%) and walk rate (8.4%) during that stretch are really not that bad; it’s just the .331 BABIP and 17.2% HR/FB rate that have been killing him. Some of that is him working up in the zone and leaving too many hittable pitches out there, but some of it is also flukey.
  • Does that give you enough confidence to say you’re ready to see Hammel face the Cardinals in a critical a divisional playoff series game? Not quite, but the Cubs might not have any better options after Jake Arrieta pitches in the Wild Card Game, and then Jon Lester takes the ball in Game One of the NLDS. In all candor, the best efforts the Cubs have received recently from pitchers outside of the top two have come on the bullpen days – all three of Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill, and Clayton Richard have been fantastic lately. Maybe that’s partly because of the ability to mix and match, but it still says quite a bit about the state of the back of the Cubs’ rotation.

  • More on Hammel’s efforts, including thoughts from Joe Maddon on the rotation, here at CSN. Maddon concedes therein that things remain “fluid.”
  • And speaking of the rotation, the Cubs are going to use Thursday’s off-day to skip Dan Haren in the rotation (Cubs.com), allowing both Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta to pitch in this weekend’s series against the Pirates.
  • Neil Ramirez, who has looked very good his last couple times out even without his high-end velocity, is feeling good, and says he’s ready to pitch on back-to-back days (Tribune). That’s likely what it would take for him to work his way back into the conversation for the playoff roster, and it’s good to hear that he feels he’s there. For me, I’m most interested in seeing that Ramirez is in a position to bounce back healthy next season; anything he contributes this year is gravy.

  • A great BP Wrigleyville piece from Zack Moser on the collusion cases you may have forgotten.
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