It’s odd to say that a guy with 10 years of big-league experience is having a breakout year, but that is exactly what the 2016 Jason Hammel is doing.
At 11-5 on the season, Hammel has a 3.07 ERA and has allowed just 95 hits in 120 1/3 innings.
For a guy that has never had more than 10 wins in a season, Hammel has bursted on the National scene as the first place Chicago Cubs continue to roll.
Since the all-star break, Hammel is 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA and has allowed just 16 hits in 24 innings with opponents hitting just .195 against him.
The difference in 2016 for Hammel has been his ability to move forward after rough starts. The 33-year-old veteran does not dwell on the past and feels no need to make up for anything.
“I just want to continue on the thought process I’ve been going with, along with the fitness,” said Hammel.“It’s very important to go pitch-by-pitch, game-by-game. In the past, I was trying to make up for a bad game over the next month.”
Hammel certainly has not had much to dwell on thus far in 2016. Righties are batting just .209 against him, while lefties are hitting at a .239 clip.
Those numbers are great, but Hammel’s most impressive stat is that he has held batters to a .165 average with runners in scoring position.
The Cubs, MLB’s best team at 66-41, have had a collective effort from all their starters including Hammel, 2015 NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, John Lester, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey.
Aside from a hiccup to close out the first-half of the season, Cubs’ pitching has been brilliant ranking atop baseball in ERA with a 3.21 collectively, earned runs allowed with just 344 and batting average against with opponents hitting just .216 on the season.
“I think as a staff, pride-wise, we would say we weren’t tired but I think we were,” Hammel said of the staff staggering into the All-Star break July 11-14. “We were grinding a little bit. But … all five of our guys have been doing it for a while and we understand what kind of gets us through those times, as long as you just follow the plan (and) trust the process. I guess you could say the All-Star break was really well-timed. We were a little tired then but we’ve re-gathered and re-focused and are rejuvenated.”
The Cubs certainly are and at 66-41, nine and a half games up on the second place St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central, it’s safe to say the division championship is all but theirs.