In a sense, Jason Hammel has been one of the most important players to the Cubs and their run to the NLCS. Hammel’s been far from an ace, but he is responsible for part of this team’s creation. Now, with their backs against the wall, the Cubs season comes down to Hammel’s next start.
After Tuesday night’s Game 3 loss, the Cubs now trail 3-0 in the NLCS to the Mets. On Wednesday, the Cubs play for their playoff lives, and manager Joe Maddon will give the ball to Hammel.
Hammel started the season as arguably the best Cubs pitcher through the first two months. However, since July, Hammel has been unable to provide any consistency and has finished the season as a bridge to middle relief.
Over the last three months, Hammel has gone six full innings or more just three times. In each of the last two NLCS games, the Cubs have been forced to use their bullpen for at least the final four innings.
In theory, Jon Lester could pitch Wednesday on short rest after throwing Game 1 on Saturday. However, Maddon has held firm that he would prefer to hold off his high-priced pitcher for another day.
The Cubs manager reiterated that feeling after Game 3, saying if the Cubs need four wins he’d prefer to have Lester at full rest.
New York has found ways to beat the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Lester and Jake Arrieta. Now, only Hammel stands between them and the World Series.