Pete Mackanin thinks trade rumors are affecting Cole Hamels

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Cole Hamels was blasted for a career-high nine runs and 12 hits over 3 1/3 innings Friday in a loss to the Giants. The final blow was a grand slam by Hunter Pence in an eight-run fourth inning. It was Hamels’ shortest start since 2011.

With trade rumors swirling, Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin told Alex Espinosa of CSNPhilly.com that he thinks the constant speculation is weighing on Hamels.

“I can’t remember a time where I’ve seen him pitch like that,” Mackanin said, adding that Hamels had trouble controlling his secondary pitches. “There’s a lot going on and it affected him. But I know he’s much better than that. Who knows, he might pressing knowing that the trading deadline is coming around. There’s so many little things that players think about that you can’t control.”

Hamels stopped short of confirming what Mackanin said, but he acknowledged that this season has been a major challenge.

“It’s not a year that you can ever prepare for,” Hamels said. “No amount of experience can put you into that sort of situation. My job is to be able to go throw the baseball and do it as best I possibly can, and the way I know I’m capable of doing.

“But you do have a lot of things that are out of your control. So, you have to realize that you can’t make it something you can control. There are a lot of different variables that are going on.”

Hamels’ ERA jumped from 3.02 to 3.63 with last night’s clunker, so he has been pitching really well despite the constant speculation about his future. The 31-year-old has struck out 25.1 percent of the batters he has faced this season, which is the best mark of his career. Still, he’s not a robot. The lack of run support gives him very little margin for error and he’d surely prefer to be dealt to a contender sooner rather than later. It’s a tough spot.

Things have been pretty quiet on the trade front in recent days, but look for that to pick up in a big way as we move closer to July 31.

Reds are the frontrunner for Nicholas Castellanos

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Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”

The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.

Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.