Jason Hammel's Return and the Questionable Back of the Rotation and Other Bullets

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Jason Hammel’s Return and the Questionable Back of the Rotation and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

jason hammel cubsDue to your amazing generosity, we passed the $12,000 mark yesterday in the BN Blogathon fundraiser for Make-A-Wish!

That means you get me for the full 38 straight hours at the Trade Deadline next week, but I don’t think we should stop there. At $18,000, we will have raised enough to sponsor THREE wishes for children and their families, so we should totally go for that. I’m looking for suggestions for things I can offer to do during the Blogathon in exchange for additional donations (i.e., if you have ideas for things I can do, drop them in the comments, and then I’ll post later what I’ll agree to do if we reach $18,000).

  • Obviously Kyle Schwarber was the big story last night, but, since he got his own post earlier this morning – and a Schwarber-centric EBS – the game-related bits in these Bullets will be about things other than Schwarber, except for this one. You can read Joe Maddon’s comments on Schwarber here at Cubs.com, and I find it interesting that he was quick to deflect any praise of the bat and focus instead on Schwarber’s work behind the plate. The needed development there remains obvious, but he did just catch 13 innings and a bunch of different pitchers last night, with different repertoires, difference velocities, etc. He may not be an everyday catcher long-term, but I maintain that what this 22-year-old with very little high-level catching experience is doing right now is crazy impressive.
  • Jason Hammel made it through five innings and 97 pitches last night, which is the good news, as he returned from a two week break and a mild hamstring issue. The bad news is that he didn’t look especially sharp, and he is still bothered by leg issues (according to the Tribune, it’s now moved down to his left calf – if you’ve ever had a leg problem, you know it’s not uncommon to get over one thing only to find a problem has cropped up in another area due to compensation). All in all, it’s just good to see Hammel back. Needless to say, he’s of critical importance to the Cubs over the next few months.
  • That Tribune report suggests that the Cubs could push Hammel’s next start back a bit to give him extra rest, but also says that Clayton Richard will start on Monday, and this Sun-Times report indicates that the plan is to have Hammel and Richard switch spots, which would actually have Hammel pitching on normal rest on Sunday. It’s a little confusing, which I am guessing is at least in part due to the many inputs: an off-day tomorrow, Hammel’s injury, the possibility of acquiring a new fifth starter in the coming days, trying to match up starters against the best possible opponents, and Tsuyoshi Wada’s rehab. In other words, the plan today might not be the plan tomorrow or the next day. Let’s just say: Hammel is probably going to start Sunday or Monday, and, unless another starter comes along before then, Richard is probably going to start the other day.
  • Speaking of Tsuyoshi Wada, he pitched last night for the Iowa Cubs (which would line him up to start again on Sunday), and, although he struck out 3 and didn’t give up any walks through 4.1, he got hit. A lot. Eight hits and six earned runs over the course of his 85 pitches. He might not be ready to return just yet.
  • Because he’s pitching in today’s doubleheader, Dallas Beeler won’t be on scheduled to factor into the whole Sunday/Monday thing. For whatever it’s worth, lefty Drake Britton (not on 40-man) moved back into the rotation at Iowa four starts ago, and has been pretty solid since then. Just leaving that out there as a fill in possibility should the need arise.
  • All that said: can we put to bed the notion that the Cubs don’t need another starting pitcher because the pitching has been so solid lately? It’s unfathomable to me that anyone could read those last three bullets and not immediately think: “Wow, the Cubs really do need to add another starter before the Trade Deadline.” I wrote about it this weekend, and it’s all still true.
  • Perhaps the only time you’ll hear me mention pitcher wins this year: Jason Motte is second on the team with 7 wins, behind only Jake Arrieta (11). Whateves. Motte’s been good, but the win total doesn’t tell you much of anything about it, much like Jon Lester’s 5 wins (and 8 losses) or Travis Wood’s 5 wins or Edwin Jackson’s 2 wins.
  • Chris Coghlan’s home run last night was initially ruled a triple, and, because a fan may have touched the ball, Reds manager Bryan Price challenged whether it should have actually been a double. After the review, the hit was correctly changed to a homer – not exactly what Price was looking for. I guess the lesson there is be careful when you seek a review.
  • Anthony Rizzo is the Cubs’ Heart and Hustle winner from the MLBPA.
  • I love Anthony Giansanti.
  • It’s truly remarkable that a guy who played shortstop in the big leagues for so many years is this bad in left field (and makes you a little nervous about just assuming any Cubs convert could play out there):

  • Annnnnnnnnnnd awesome:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.