Cole Hamels didn’t look overly sharp during the 1st inning of Friday’s game in Cincinnati, allowing a pair of hits and walking a batter to let one run score. That’s all he would give up, though, because he walked off the mound after throwing two warmup pitches between innings. It seemed as though he may have tweaked something and then tried to give it a go, but realized pretty quickly it wasn’t going to work out.
Maybe the heat and humidity got to him and caused some cramping, or maybe he slept funny and woke up with a stiff back. The Reds TV broadcasters apparently said it was a lat strain. The Cubs had not provided any information as of post time, so we’ll update this post as needed.
Mike Montgomery entered in relief, giving up a home run to Phillip Ervin on the first pitch he threw before settling down. Sort of. Monty was rushed into action, which may have explained why his sinker was only sitting 91-92 and hanging middle-middle.
The Cubs have three more games in Cincinnati, followed by a pair on the South Side and then the All-Star break, so they’re not in dire straights with the rotation. Hamels was slated to start Thursday in Pittsburgh, but José Quintana could take the bump in that one on regular rest. Again, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Update #1: The Cubs have said Hamels felt something in his left and is being evaluated. Fingers crossed for a cramp or mild muscle strain.
Update #2: Given the rare Friday off day and the abbreviated series with the Sox, the Cubs may not need to IL Hamels and bring up a replacement. If they do, however, righty Alec Mills has been pitching really well over his last several starts for Iowa and is already on the 40-man roster.
For what it’s worth, Hamels dealt with an oblique strain in late April of 2017 that forced him to miss two months. That was his right side and this issue didn’t appear to be too serious at first blush since the lefty at least felt comfortable testing it. Or so I’m telling myself.
Update #3: Hamels indeed has a left oblique issue and will be placed on the IL, Joe Maddon said after the game. They’ll know more after an MRI Saturday, but expect the Cubs to exercise plenty of caution.