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Week of August 24th’s Ivy Drip Is Out!

by on August 25, 2015

This week’s issue is out. Here’s our Cubs Spotlight on Jason Hammel from this week’s issue:

It hasn’t been the prettiest last 30 days for Jason Hammel. Until his start on Sunday where he finally saw the 7th inning, which had seemed like a Sisyphean task, it had been since July 3rd and seven starts since he’d done so. However, there are a couple mitigating factors in there. In one of those starts he got hurt. The start after that they were awfully careful with him, though he did walk three in five innings. He got a few quick hooks against the Giants and Brewers, and then was rained off the mound against the Tigers, even though he was getting smacked around. So to start where he got hurt and the one after probably aren’t fair to include with the others where his pitches were making very loud noises headed the other way.

It’s led some to panic about yet another second half collapse from Hammel, and you’d conclude that if you only looked at 1st half/2nd half splits on Hammel. But that’s the not the whole story. Last year, with Oakland, Hammel’s second half ERA was 4.31, nearly a run and a half higher than his first half. But that doesn’t tell you everything. Hammel had a horrid July, with an ERA of 7.83 last year, where he walked nearly five batters per nine innings and his FIP was over 6.00. But from there on, Hammel was effective. In August ‘14 his ERA was 2.88 though his FIP and xFIP were both very high so he might have benefited from the excellent A’s defense last year. In September his ERA was 2.20 with a FIP of 3.03, so there was no joy there. He didn’t even walk a hitter per nine innings in 2014’s last month.

2013’s second half wasn’t pretty, but neither was Hammel’s first half that year as he ended the season with a 4.97 ERA and a 4.93 FIP. So it doesn’t feel fair to pick on either half of that season. 2012, which was a very effective season for Hammel in Baltimore, he had a 3.09 ERA with a 3.18 FIP. So the idea that he always falls apart in the second half just isn’t true.

And the Cubs are going to need him. They still lead the league in bullpen appearances and are seventh in baseball in relief innings thrown. It is unlikely that Kyle Hendricks or Dan Haren are going to go beyond the 5th or 6th innings much, and the more short outings the starters put forth means more important innings going to relievers like Motte, Hunter, and other jamokes who haven’t quite proven to be trustworthy yet (Soriano is coming off that DL and they’re going to use him when he does. You’d better get your antacids ready). Additionally, we are entering uncharted territory for Arrieta, and he’ll at some point be conserved for when the Cubs are assured of needing him for the coin-flip game. There probably isn’t too much help coming from Iowa other than maybe Carl Edwards Jr. and a Brian Schlitter redux, if that does anything for you. And it doesn’t.

Looking at Hammel’s spreads, there hasn’t really been a drop off in velocity or movement for him this year. Just location. He has abandoned his change of late, so maybe he needs to get back to that. But one should not expect the past month to be the norm from here on out.

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