Cole Hamels has allowed four runs across 20 innings over his last three starts, lowering his ERA from 2.51 to 2.40 for the year. The unlikely secret to his recent success? Poison oak.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Hamels contracted poison oak on both of his legs while fishing on teammate Roy Oswalt’s property in Unionville, Missouri during an off-day on June 20. While Oswalt had the presence of mind to wear long pants, Hamels paid the price for wearing shorts.
“It didn’t work out too well for me,” Hamels said, smiling. “I don’t know if I’ll be fishing on (Oswalt’s) property without (long) pants on anytime soon.”
Hamels described the pain as “razor blades on the back of my legs every time I’d take a step.” The 27-year-old southpaw took quite a bit of ribbing from his teammates, but was able to pitch through the condition for subsequent starts against the Athletics on June 25 and the Red Sox on June 30 before his symptoms finally began to ease this past Tuesday against the Marlins.
Hamels, who was just named to his second All-Star team, is 10-4 with a 2.40 ERA over 18 starts this season. His 0.95 WHIP is the lowest in the National League.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.