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.
 

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.