Don't freak out about Cole Hamels

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for hamels_cole_091022.jpgUPDATE: Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley comes to a similar conclusion, if you are looking for a more in-depth analysis.

1:45 PM: Facts are facts. Cole Hamels was knocked around pretty good by the Diamondbacks on Friday night, giving up a career-high four home runs, including three in the fourth inning. Hamels has allowed seven home runs over his first 24 2/3 innings this season, and according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, he has served up 14 home runs over his last 40 2/3 innings if we include the 2009 postseason.

Pretty ugly numbers, but certainly nothing to panic about quite yet. Despite a 5.11 ERA, Hamels still has a very healthy 26/6 K/BB ratio over his first four starts and isn’t allowing any more flyballs than he usually does (37 percent flyball rate as opposed to 39.4 percent for his career). What has changed is his HR/FB rate, which currently sits at 25.9 percent. That simply won’t continue. xFIP (a statistic that attempts to normalize a pitcher’s home run rate) currently has Hamels at a much more palatable 3.26.

I realize these are just statistics and Hamels still has to go out there and actually execute a complete gameplan — oddly, he only threw 16 changeups last night, largely abandoning his best pitch — but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest he’s just riding out a period of very bad luck. We’ll see.
 

Albert Pujols passes Mark McGwire with 584th career home run

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs out a double during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 11, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Angels 14-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.

Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.

Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.

Zach Britton allowed an earned run for the first time since April 30

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 22:  Zach Britton #53 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches for his 38th save in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 22, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Oriole won 4-3.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.

The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.

Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.