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Cole Hamels admits he came back too soon from his oblique injury

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Perhaps this season might have turned out differently.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Hamels suffered an oblique injury in late April 2017 when he was with the Rangers. At the time, it was said he’d miss about eight weeks.

That was just about how much time he did miss; he returned in late June. Even then, he wasn’t quite the same pitcher after the injury:

Before injury: 5 starts, 32⅔ innings, 3.03 ERA, 1.133 WHIP
After injury: 19 starts, 115⅓ innings, 4.53 ERA, 1.223 WHIP

The same thing happened to Hamels in 2019. He made 17 starts for the Cubs up to the end of June, posting a 2.98 ERA and 1.204 WHIP and there was at least some talk he’d make the All-Star team.

Then this happened [VIDEO].

The oblique injury suffered here was said to not be as severe as the one in 2017, and Hamels was back pitching in five weeks. Still, his performance suffered. After his return he posted a 5.79 ERA and 1.833 WHIP and allowed eight home runs in 42 innings.

Hamels told Todd Zolecki, the Phillies MLB.com beat writer, that he probably came back too soon this season:

“I rushed back,” Hamels said. “When you have an oblique injury, you can’t do anything for 14-20 days. I didn’t throw. I just wasn’t able to build up the arm strength. I thought I’d be able to generate my pitches just by being out there. I thought I could just make it work. Unfortunately, my arm got tired. I basically ran before I could walk. I was never able to catch up.”

That was pretty obvious. Hamels finally had a good outing in his last 2019 start, vs. the Cardinals: four shutout innings, eight strikeouts. By then, of course, the Cubs had been eliminated.

I get it, competitors want to compete and be back on the field, but we have seen this happen far too many times with Cubs players. They’re injured and don’t sit out when they should. Or they come back too soon. Maybe the Cubs would have just been better off giving that rotation slot to Alec Mills for a longer period of time. Or not trading Mike Montgomery and giving it to him — he did very well in the rotation in 2018 filling in.

Zolecki’s article indicates that Hamels might be up for a reunion with the Phillies and also, that he’d be willing to take a one-year deal to stay with a contender:

“I’m not there to handcuff somebody or an organization,” Hamels said. “That’s what the younger guys can do. I can do one year here and there and just play as long as I can play. I think that’s what will help give me an opportunity to play on teams that are trying to go to the postseason. If you need one guy, I can just kind of bounce around. Obviously, if the Phillies were interested in longer than one, I’d entertain that, too. But I think I want the opportunity to have as many opportunities to get to the postseason and try to win.

“I’ll go every year. I’ll prove myself. I don’t mind having my back against the wall. I think I perform better like that anyway. It just keeps me more accountable.”

I’m not necessarily saying I want Hamels back, though if he and the Cubs could come to a one-year agreement for a reasonable amount of money, I think that would help stabilize the rotation.

In any case, I thought you should know that what some of us felt about Hamels coming back too soon from the oblique injury turned out to be correct.