Last week, Craig Edwards observed that the current Cubs rotation was on pace to become the club’s worst ever. While the team as a whole had prevented runs at something slightly better than an average rate, that was due largely (noted Edwards) to the contributions of the defense. The starters, meanwhile, had performed poorly in those areas (strikeouts, walk, home-run prevention) over which they exerted the most control.
From Edwards’ post:
The Cubs appear to have gone some way towards addressing this particular shortcoming on Thursday night. While nothing’s official, a trade for Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels appears imminent. Per Jeff Passan:
Source: The Cubs are sending Class A pitcher Rollie Lacy and a player to be named later to the Rangers for Cole Hamels.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 27, 2018
For all his name recognition, the present-day incarnation of Cole Hamels is inferior to the best version of that same pitcher, the one whose on-field exploits for a decade were rivaled only by those produced by a group of starters who will receive real consideration for the Hall of Fame. After recording a successful first full season with the Rangers in 2016, Hamels has authored more ordinary work in the meantime, recording 1.7 WAR in 262.1 innings since the beginning of 2017. That said, both his swinging-strike and overall strikeout rates (9.7% and 17.1%, respectively, in 2017) have returned to his pre-2017 levels (12.3% and 22.7%, respectively, in 2018). He has exhibited, meanwhile, no real signs of velocity decline.
As for Hamels’ role in Chicago, he’d look certain to replace offseason acquisition Tyler Chatwood in the rotation. Chatwood’s struggles with command have been pronounced this season, and his current walk rate (19.0%) would represent the second-highest mark among qualifiers since integration. Hamels is not only projected to outperform Chatwood by nearly a half-win over the remainder of the season, but he would also (a) serve as insurance against further ineffectiveness in the rotation and (b) stand to play some role in a longer postseason series, as well.
As for the cost to Chicago, it appears at the moment to be fairly minimal outside of the $8 million or so remaining on Hamels’ contract. The only player mentioned by name going to Texas is Rollie Lacy, a 23-year-old right-hander who has produced decent rates in the High-A Carolina League this year but who was omitted from Eric Longenhagen’s audit of the Cubs’ farm system back in November.
Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.