Cole Hamels strikes out 13, lowers second-half ERA to 1.96

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Cole Hamels turned in another brilliant start last night, racking up a season-high 13 strikeouts while holding the Marlins to one run in 6.1 innings for his fourth straight victory.
Even with the winning streak Hamels’ win-loss record stands at just 11-10, but that vastly understates how fantastic he’s been all season and how dominant he’s been since the All-Star break. In fact, among pitchers with at least 10 starts in the second half his 1.96 ERA leads the NL and only Felix Hernandez at 1.64 has a lower mark in the AL.
He’s only 4-3 during that time, but the lack of wins is hardly Hamels’ fault. In the second half alone he’s lost twice while allowing just one run and also has four no-decisions in Quality Starts. With some decent support from the lineup and bullpen he could easily be something like 8-1 with a 1.96 ERA, .200 opponents’ batting average, and 94/17 K/BB ratio in 84.2 innings spread over 12 starts since the break.
And come playoff time he’ll be the Phillies’ third starter.

Johnny Cueto expected to opt-out of his deal after the season

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Johnny Cueto signed a six-year $130 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. In his first season he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, helping lead the Giants to the playoffs. This season has been rocky for Cueto — he’s got a a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts and has battled blisters — but they’ve been far rockier for the Giants overall, as they sit in last place in the NL West and have the second worst record in baseball.

Many suspect that the Giants will either rebuild or, at the very least, restructure some in response to this nightmare year. If so, they’re likely going to be doing it with Cueto, who Jon Heyman reports is going to opt-out of his deal:

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is planning to opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but he would listen to any extension offer . . . Cueto has $84 million to go over four years. It would probably take an injury or major slump for Cueto not to opt out. But it makes sense that he will.

Heyman says the Giants are not inclined to give him an extension, so expect to see Cueto on the free agent market three days after the World Series ends, which is the deadline for him to exercise his opt-out rights.

The Dodgers are concerned about Julio Urias’ shoulder

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Things are going great for the Dodgers lately. They’ve won seven consecutive games and 13 of their last 14. They lead the National League in wins and are in first place in, arguably, the best division in baseball.

But there are a lot of moving parts on a baseball team, and even when some things are going great, other things can go not-so-great. Like this:

Urias has been diagnosed with shoulder inflammation and shut down indefinitely. An MRI last week showed no structural damage, but his shoulder is still bothering him. He has not pitched in the bigs since late May, when he allowed seven runs in less than three innings against the Miami Marlins. He was sent down after that and went 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA, six walks and 17 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched in three starts with Oklahoma City before being shelved.