It's still hard to believe that Cubs fans are cheering for Cole Hamels when just six months ago, it was thought that Yu Darvish and his $126 mil contract would be carrying the North Sides' rotation. However, Darvish was ruled out for the rest of the season with a stress reaction and Hamels is currently sporting a 0.79 ERA in five starts for the Cubs since coming over from the Rangers.
However, while the deal at the moment looks like a no-brainer, Hamels admitted today in an interview on 670 the Score's Bernstein and McKnight show the journey to get to where he is today wasn't an easy one.
Prior to Hamels arriving in Chicago, he had two underwhelming seasons in Texas where it seemed like the 34-year-old's best days had already passed him. And 2018 seemed like another in a slew of disappointing seasons, playing for a Rangers team that was essentially starting a rebuild, posting a 4.72 ERA in 20 starts and was on pace to allow the most home runs of his career.
But despite the poor results, Hamels felt like he was getting close to the guy he was from '14 to '16 as he battled back from a bad oblique tear that was forcing him to pitch entirely different. Hamels claims he came back a bit too early and wasn't quite able to replicate this pitching motion, which kept him from being able to hide the ball and lead to him being uncomfortable on the mound.
He could feel how close he was, crediting the Rangers as well as the Cubs for helping him through his mechanical issues, but it all just seemed to click when he came to Chicago. His home run problem hasn't existed with the Cubs, after allowing 23 dingers with the Rangers, Hamels' hasn't allowed a ball to leave the yard in his five starts for Chicago. His hard contact rate has dropped from 48.4% in July to 27.9% this August with the Cubs, and while some of it may have to do with leaving Arlington and their hitter-friendly park, Hamels clearly feels at home with the Cubs.
Hamels impact has been immense in just his five games he's started with the Cubs, already tying Jon Lester for the club lead in bWAR among pitchers at 1.8, and that just includes his time with the Cubs. And while Hamels is expected to become a free agent after this season, if he continues to thrive on the North Side, it would be tough for the Cubs and Hamels to ruin the good thing they both have going on.
Regardless, the Cubs have found an ace in Cole Hamels and they're hoping he can carry them to another World Series title this fall.