Hamels giving Cubs’ rotation the ace it needs

Cole Hamels of the Chicago CubsCole Hamels is playing like it’s 2008 all over again, much to the delight of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs were hoping the veteran pitcher could regain some of his all-star form when they took a chance on him at the trade deadline despite his struggles with the Texas Rangers, but after one month with Chicago, Hamels resembles the ace who was named World Series MVP a decade ago, and he’s already become the Cubs’ most important starter.

Hamels has yet to suffer a loss in six appearances with Chicago, going 4-0 with one complete game and a mind-boggling 0.69 earned-run average. He had struggled in home starts for his entire time with Texas, but he appears to have no such issues at Wrigley Field, and the Cubs are providing him with better run support than he received from the lowly Rangers. Not that Hamels has needed much help from the offense with opposing hitters barely able to get on base.

Acquiring Hamels was a low-risk gamble Chicago needed to make due to the inconsistency of its starting rotation. The National League leading Cubs saw their marquee free agent acquisition Yu Darvish suffer an early end to his season due to nagging injuries, while formerly reliable options like Jon Lester have faltered of late, with his ERA ballooning from 2.18 to 3.67 since the start of July. Lester’s struggles have allowed Hamels to become the de-facto ace in Chicago’s rotation, and it’s not difficult to imagine the Cubs turning to Hamels as their Game 1 starter in the postseason.

Hamels’ next start is against the Philadelphia Phillies - the team where Hamels spent the prime of his career. The 2018 Cubs represent possibly the best opportunity Hamels will have to relive his 2008 championship run with Philadelphia, and his revitalized performance resembles that of Justin Verlander’s second wind after he was traded to the Houston Astros last season. The Astros went on to win the World Series riding Verlander as their ace, and Chicago appears to be hoping a similar formula will work for them.