Eloy Jimenez isn’t Cole Hamels’ fault.
In fact, when Jimenez stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and just one out in the top of the first inning last night, Hamels got the former Cubs uber-prospect to ground into an inning-ending double-play, allowing me to exhale in joy as we obviously avoided the disaster of a big Eloy Jimenez home run in his Wrigley Field debut for the Sox.
Yup, the Cubs lost last night and it really stunk. But Cole Hamels didn’t. He was very, very good once again, wrapping up his night with 7.0 IP, 6H, 1ER, 2BB, and 8 strikeouts.
Hamels’ 22.0 IP scoreless streak came to an end last night, but only barely. Not only did he allow just one earned run over the course of another 7.0 inning start (his fourth in a row), the runner scored – in part – because of an ill-advised throw from Javy Baez that wound up sailing about 1,000 feet to the right of Anthony Rizzo. Had Baez not tried to make the play, it’s entirely possible that Hamels escapes that inning unscathed. But he gave up some hits after that, so the run that had scored on the error was converted into an earned run.
Of course, the importance of that scoreless streak pales in comparison to the other momentous thing Cole Hamels accomplished last night: earning his 2,500th career strikeout.
If you don’t know, that’s a really big one …
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) June 19, 2019
Hamels is just the 10th left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball history to accomplish the feat, and just the 38th pitcher overall. And there’s plenty of more fun to have with it than that:
#Cubs Cole Hamels has his 2,500th strikeout (and his 2,501st).
Here is a complete list of pitchers with at least 2,500 strikeouts and more strikeouts-per-walk than Cole Hamels:
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) June 19, 2019
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) June 19, 2019
Cole Hamels on Wrigley Field’s crowd congratulating him on 2,500 career strikeouts. (Only the 10th lefty in MLB history to accomplish the feat) pic.twitter.com/ysJkMSFtcG
— Madeline Kenney (@madkenney) June 19, 2019
After he recorded his 2,500th career K, Cole Hamels tipped his cap to fans as they gave him a standing ovation.
He gave the Wrigley faithful another hat-tip after the game Tuesday night: pic.twitter.com/GNGbOMmmae
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) June 19, 2019
Last night’s effort marked Hamels’ the fourth straight start of at least 7.0 IP, at least 8 strikeouts, and at most 2 walks. He’s now got a 2.85 ERA and 3.32 FIP this season with a really solid 24.0% strikeout rate and 8.4% walk rate, and an even more impressive 52.4% groundball rate.
As I’m sure you can imagine, he’s ranking right up near the top of the leaderboards all over baseball …
Cole Hamels 2019 Stats/MLB Rankings
Innings: 91.2 (18th)
ERA: 2.85 (13th)
FIP: 3.32 (19th)
fWAR: 2.3 (14th)
GB%: 52.4% (9th highest)
LD%: 17.7% (12th lowest)
FB%: 29.8% (21st lowest)
In just about any way you could imagine, Hamels has been a top 15-20 starter in MLB this season and about half that range in the National League. I know the Cubs have a lot of All-Stars potentially lined up to make the Mid-Summer Classic, but when the players/coaches/league voting is done, Hamels has so far set himself up for the fifth appearances of his career.
With that, I’ll also take this time to admit I was wrong: even though the Cubs saved $7M by shipping Drew Smyly to Texas in conjunction with the move, I wasn’t entirely on board with the idea of picking up Hamels’ $20M option this past offseason. Clearly, that was the right call, because he’s arguably already been worth more than that to the Cubs half-way through the year. There’s still a lot of season to go, but it’s hard to be anything but impressed with Hamels, as he continues to deliver quality start after quality start, while making history in the process. What a huge moment and huge season. Good for him and good for the Cubs.
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS (@obvious_shirts) June 19, 2019