Cole Hamels’ trade value shouldn’t change based on Saturday’s start, but it might

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On Friday afternoon, ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweeted the thoughts of an unnamed baseball executive, who said this of the Phillies’ starter Saturday versus the Cubs, Cole Hamels:

“He’s pitched in playoffs & WS. But for that front office this may be biggest start he’s ever had”

The implication, of course, is that Hamels’ trade value stands to change based on how well he performs at Wrigley Field on Saturday afternoon. The lefty heads into the start with 1,921 career innings over which he’s compiled a 3.31 ERA with a strikeout-to-walk ratio approaching four-to-one. Among starters who have accrued at least 500 innings since 2010, Hamels has the seventh-best ERA.

Hamels has a mediocre 3.91 ERA this season, however, and has been hammered in each of his last two starts. He allowed nine runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Giants on July 10, and five runs in three innings against the Marlins on Sunday. His track record over 1,921 innings should be weighted significantly more than his last 6 1/3 innings and what he does Saturday.

John Stolnis at SB Nation’s Phillies blog The Good Phight raises a good point. What his trade value should be contingent on is one thing, but what it actually is based on is another thing. And there many be a handful of front office types who will decide whether or not to pursue Hamels in a trade based on what they see him do against the likes of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Jorge Soler. It’s not good science and it’s not a good methodology on which to base important business decisions, but it’s used nevertheless. So that unnamed executive very well may be right: Hamels’ start against the Cubs on Saturday could be the most important start he’s made since helping the team win Game 5 of the 2008 World Series.

Maddon: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again for Angels this year

Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels after straining his right forearm in his second start, manager Joe Maddon says.

Ohtani likely will return to the Angels’ lineup as their designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced he had strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.

“I’m not anticipating him pitching at all this year,” Maddon said. “Any kind of throwing program is going to be very conservative.”

Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. Ohtani issued five walks during the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.

The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way player, Maddon said.

“I’m seeing that he can,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get past the arm maladies and figure that out. But I’ve seen it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now maybe it might get to the point where he may choose to do one thing over the other and express that to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind’s eye, he’s still going to be able to do this.”

The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from a full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani wasn’t throwing at full strength for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March because he wasn’t expected to pitch until May as he returned from surgery.

“Going into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all the things that permit guys to be ready for a year, that’s what we need to see is some normalcy before you make that kind of determination,” Maddon said.

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