The Cubs don’t know when Cole Hamels will return from a strained oblique but he avoided a worst-case scenario.
When Cole Hamels’ left Friday’s start with an injury some Cubs officials feared the worst. Fortunately, the southpaw’s MRI didn’t reveal anything the organization deems to be troubling. That means Hamels should still be in position to help Chicago compete for the NL Central crown shortly after the All-Star break.
According to manager Joe Maddon, the Cubs were encouraged by the results of Hamels’ MRI. The pitcher is still expected to undergo some treatment to help with his injured oblique, but the plan is for Hamels to start throwing again “relatively soon.”
The Cubs have very little margin for error if they want to defeat the Brewers to win the division. Hamels has pitched like an ace through his 17 starts on the year. His 6-3 record isn’t a fair indicator for how well he’s thrown the ball. Any team in MLB would be happy to have a starter pitching to an ERA of just 2.98 through 99.2 innings pitched.
The upcoming All-Star break should also work in the Cubs favor as it relates to Hamels’ injury. The 35-year-old will get four extra off days to rest and recover. That doesn’t mean he’ll jump right back into his team’s starting rotation once the second half begins, but it should cut down the number of starts he’ll be forced to miss.
The Hamels injury news isn’t the only boost the Cubs have received to their rotation this week. Kyle Hendricks returned from the Injured List to start on Tuesday night. His return will certainly help soften the blow of losing Hamels for any significant period of time.
Hamels getting back into the rotation quickly won’t guarantee the Cubs a division crown, but losing him for a significant amount of time would’ve given the Brewers a massive advantage. Fortunately for fans in Chicago, their ace isn’t going to be on the shelf too long.