Exit Interviews – Jason Hammel (Totally Different Than Sahadev’s, I Promise)
So I’m going to jump around on these now, for a couple reasons. One, there isn’t much to say about Chris Denorfia or Austin Jackson, who are pretty much the same guy. Neither are going to be around you wouldn’t think, and if either are their roles will still be the same. Second, what am I going to add now to Arrieta’s or Lester’s season? Pretty much nothing, and I’ve already written about Arrieta’s contract conundrum over on Cubs Den.
It also isn’t probably the best strategy to write about Hammel just a few days after Sahadev Sharma did on BP Wrigleyville, because he’s basically better at everything (including better looking). But I’m not the smartest guy around. Let’s do it anyway.
Obviously, the narrative with Hammel has been pre-injury and post-injury, which happened on July 8th against St. Louis (you may remember it as the Strop-Peralta full body dry heave). Everyone knows this. So I got to wondering what would happen physically to Hammel after a hamstring injury. How would that tangibly change things for him. leading to the deteriorating results he got from mid-July on.
I’m hardly a physical therapist, but it would seem to me a hamstring injury would keep one from bending as low or pushing off as much from the rubber, and I would think that would raise one’s release point. Would Hammel be able to get the ball down in the zone consistently if he couldn’t drive lower? The answers don’t seem to bare that out, but they do tell their own tale.
This is the vertical release point of Hammel on his fastball all season. As you can see, basically aside from one blip early in April, Hammel’s release point stayed consistent right through to that start against the Cardinals where he got hurt. From then on, it was far more up and down, and actually regularly lower than it was when he was rolling along, which I wouldn’t have thought. But then again, that could be a sign that he simply couldn’t get over the ball, which would cause his pitches to stay higher.
This is the release point on his slider. While not quite as smooth as the fastball, as you can see that post injury it’s far more wild than before, with deeper valleys and higher peaks than at any time during his effective first half. I guess all we can conclude is that Hammel’s injury caused something to go awry in his mechanics/delivery, and he spent the last half of the season trying to find it and over and under correcting whatever was wrong.
Sahadev went over this in his post (curses!) about how these bore out in results, but looking at where Hammel put his fastball before his injury:
And then after…
It would seem that Hammel couldn’t get the ball up or inside to righties nearly as often. That could be the lower release point. Could just be tactics, but he certainly wasn’t changing eye levels as much as he was in the season’s first half.
I think Hammel will have a bounce back in 2016, and will look much better as a #4 or #5 than he did as a #3, which will help at least the perception of him by Cubs fans. He may even be pushed out of being a playoff starter if the Cubs go and get two more arms and no one gets hurt (though we’ll discuss Kyle Hendricks tomorrow).
Or he’ll be part of a trade. Either way.