When the Chicago Cubs signed Jason Hammel to a one-year costless agent deal this off-season, it was looked at as a solid move that would bring them some nice rotation depth. After another dominating performance this afternoon, it is clear that Hammel has brought them much more than that.
Hammel went six strong innings in this late morning, Fourth of July affair. He allowed five hits, two walks and two earned runs in his start, while striking out seven Washington Nationals. The Cubs rolled to a 7-2 victory, as Hammel picked up the victory bringing his season record to 8-5.
Through 16 starts, Hammel now has an ERA of 2.98, a 1.02 WHIP and 104 strikeouts to only 23 walks. He has been fantastic all season long, and has proved to be one of the best costless agent bargains of the off-season.
The Cubs’ offense got things started right away in this one as Chris Coghlan and Justin Ruggiano led off the game with back-to-back singles. Anthony Rizzo then grounded into a double play, but it allowed Coghlan to score the first run of the ballgame. The Nationals tied it up in the bottom of the first on a solo homerun by Jason Werth.
The Cubs took the lead again in the top of the second inning, as Hammel hit a single that plated Nate Schierholtz. Ruggiano ripped an opposite field solo homerun in the third inning, and Coghlan scored again on an RBI groundout by Rizzo in the fifth inning, as the Cubs entered the middle innings with a 4-1 lead.
Anthony Rendon hit a double to lead off the seventh inning, and that would be the end of the line for Hammel. Neil Ramirez then entered the game, and he allowed an RBI single to Wilson Ramos to make the score 4-2. Ramirez shut down the Nationals after that, and was followed by Pedro Strop, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning.
The Cubs scored some insurance in the top of the ninth to make it a 7-2 game, before Brian Schlitter pitched a perfect bottom of the inning to send the Cubs home happy.
The Cubs have won four games in a row, and now sit with a record of 38-46. While they are unlikely to compete this season, it is nice to see the Cubs playing so well.
Hammel is one of the most coveted players on the trade market, and he expects to be moved before the July 31st deadline. The Cubs have obviously found something in the 31-year-old RHP, and it will be very interesting to see where he ends up.
Regardless, he is pitching as well as anybody in baseball, as the Cubs continue to show promise on the field. A 38-46 record may not seem like much, but if the Cubs continue to play well, they will be reaching .500 before long.