After what seems like being interested in acquiring him via trade for almost a decade now, the Dodgers are reportedly getting close to landing left-handed pitcher Cole Hamels in a free-agent deal.
Hamels is now 37 years old and has thrown 3.1 innings total since 2019 ended, making a one start cameo with the Braves last year after having shoulder issues early in the year and then shutting things down due to shoulder and triceps problems.
In 2019, he was solid if not unspectacular with the Cubs, posting a 3.81 ERA, 4.09 FIP, and 4.57 xERA striking out 23.2% of batters and walking 9.1% in 141.2 innings. So he was a pretty average starter last time anybody saw him for any extended period of time, but he was also still sitting 91 mph at that point and was down to 88 mph last year, with reports that he was in the high-80s in his showcase.
This is all a roundabout way to saying to temper your expectations here, as it’s basically just a depth move that would be better than running out a pen game every fifth day and taxing the team that way.
It also could be seen as an insurance policy, and the reason this is ominous to me is it further raises my concern about the health of Tony Gonsolin (shoulder) and Clayton Kershaw (elbow), especially the latter.
Gonsolin has been generally effective in the majors as a starter and could be a pen weapon again in the playoffs, while Kershaw has continued to age gracefully and would certainly be one of the best third starters in baseball. Losing either of them would put a dent in their hopes this year, something Hamels is unlikely to fill.
Much like with Danny Duffy (though he grades as a much better acquisition), it seems like a way of eating necessary innings in order to keep the things as fresh as possible for a run at the division, with perhaps an eye at a pen role as health hopefully returns to the rotation. I doubt Hamels is costly in any meaningful way, so it’s hard to argue with the sense of this, but I do hope Hamels returns in shape and ready to go, because there’s only two months of the season left to make a difference.