The Cubs have baseball’s record (82-46) and a 14-game lead in the NL Central, but not everyone on the roster is happy. Veteran starter Jason Hammel is upset with manager Joe Maddon over being pulled early from his most recent start.
Hammel started Saturday’s loss to the Dodgers (LAD 3, CHC 2) and was pulled after only 2 1/3 innings and 39 pitches. He was pulled with runners on first and second, both of which were stranded by reliever Rob Zastryzny. Hammel was charged with three runs on five hits, including a homer.
After the game, Hammel told reporters he was not happy with Maddon’s quick hook, so much so that he held a closed door meeting with the manager. From Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times:
“I didn’t even pitch today in my mind. I barely threw 40 pitches,” said Hammel, who actually threw 39, and kept his postgame answers to even fewer syllables. “It was a side day for me pretty much.”
Maddon told reporters pulling Hammel was the “right thing do to today, based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like, and Rob Z’s availability.” It’s worth noting the Dodgers had six lefties in their starting lineup, and the lefty Zastryzny went on to toss 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.
The quick hook is a bit of a pattern for Hammel and Maddon. He was pulled after 3 1/2 innings in his previous start, though that was after allowing 10 runs (!) and throwing 97 pitches. Last season Hammel averaged only 4.79 innings and 82.5 pitches per start in his final 11 starts of 2015. He then threw 4 1/3 innings and 96 pitches total in two postseason starts.
Keep in mind Hammel and Maddon do have a long history. They were together with the Rays from 2006-08 before reuniting with the Cubs in 2014, so their relationship goes back a few years. I’m sure this wasn’t their first closed door meeting, and really, it’s good that they got together and talked it out. Of course Hammel is unhappy. Who wouldn’t be? Maddon still has to do what’s best for the team though.
Hammel’s contract includes a clause that will turn his $10 million club option for 2017 into a mutual option, effectively allowing him to elect free agency, should he throw 200 innings this season. With only 140 innings thrown this year, Hammel won’t trigger that clause, meaning he won’t be able to test the market in a thin free agent pitching class.
Source: CBS Sports / Jason Hammel isn’t happy with Joe Maddon after his short hook on Saturday