Cubs’ Jason Hammel won’t get caught up in ‘flip’ talk
By GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter May 31, 2014 11:30PM
Jason Hammel improved to 5-0 in his career against the Brewers, picking up the win as the Cubs won 8-0. Hammel (6-3) worked seven scoreless innings, fanning eight. | Getty Images
The Cubs finished May with the worst record in the majors — but not their worst opening two-month record under Ricketts family ownership. The Cubs’ records through May (and final season records) in that span:
Year 2 months Pct. Final
2014 20-33 .377 ??
2013 23-30 .434 66-96
2012 18-32 .360 61-101
2011 23-30 .434 71-91
2010 24-28 .462 75-87
Updated: July 2, 2014 3:06PM
MILWAUKEE — What’s Jason Hammel going to do when he doesn’t have the Milwaukee Brewers to kick around anymore?
Better yet, what are the Cubs going to do when they don’t have Hammel to send out to pitch every fifth day?
As the calendar flips to June, this year’s “flip” guy on the pitching staff is on the clock.
The right-hander’s seven scoreless innings in an 8-0 victory against the Brewers on Saturday at Miller Park served notice that his bruised pitching hand is fully healed — and, perhaps, that his value is rising as teams start making their plans for the trade deadline.
“I know my own value,” said Hammel (6-3, 2.78 ERA), who improved his career record against the Brewers to 5-0. “And my value right now is in here for the Cubs. I’m not going to play into the whole trade talk.”
He doesn’t have to. His one-year, $6 million contract made him this year’s Scott Feldman, who went from a one-year contract last year to a July 2 trade to the Baltimore Orioles and into a pennant race.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see somebody else jump the trade market again to go after someone such as Hammel, especially after he showed he’s over the bone bruise on the back of his pitching hand he suffered May 20 in a victory against the Yankees that came back to hamper him in a loss Sunday in San Diego.
Coincidentally, it was Feldman who recommended the Cubs to Hammel after they became Orioles teammates and Hammel was looking at free agency coming off two injury-hampered seasons.
With the Cubs still owning the worst record in the majors as they finish a three-city, 10-game road trip Sunday, Hammel and Sunday’s starter, Jeff Samardzija, are looking like two of the top pitchers on the summer trade block.
They’re also by far the two best performers in the Cubs’ rotation. Once they’re traded, what happens then?
“That’s a great question. But I think I’ll cross that bridge — if I have to cross that bridge — when I get to it,” first-year manager Rick Renteria said.
“We all know that the club is made up of a lot of different players, and there are guys that are on the club that are special components of the team. I hope we’re always able to handle the adjustments to the changes that occur, if they should occur.”
NOTES: The day after getting his lone game off of the season, first baseman Anthony Rizzo delivered a pair of two-run homers off Brewers starter Wily Peralta for the Cubs’ first four runs.
◆ Shortstop Starlin Castro caught wind of Rick Renteria’s plan to give him a day off Sunday and lobbied successfully to stay in the lineup through the weekend. He is the only Cub who has played in every game.
◆ Jason Hammel has a 1.85 ERA in six career starts against the Brewers. This year he is 2-0 with 15 strikeouts in 14 scoreless innings against them.