The Houston Astros will be looking to add some pieces to their bullpen in the coming days as the trade deadline approaches. One player who might help bring a veteran presence to a young bullpen and serve as a solid addition would be left-handed pitcher Cole Hamels. Hamels, who last pitched in 2020 for the Atlanta Braves, will be looking to get back into baseball after spending the majority of the 2020 season on the injured list after being sidelined with shoulder issues and tricep tendonitis.
On Friday, Hamels is scheduled to throw in a showcase in Frisco at the ballpark of the Texas Rangers‘ Double-A affiliate. Some of the teams that plan to attend will be the Yankees, Mets, Phillies, and Red Sox. Although there might be other teams in attendance, the veteran southpaw will have an opportunity to get back into baseball to help a club looking to make a run for October. So, why should the Astros consider signing Hamels?
Considering the Options
The Astros need bullpen support. The returns of Josh James, Austin Pruitt, and Enoli Paredes are uncertain. All three continue their rehab assignments in Triple-A with the Sugar Land Skeeters. Of the three, Pruitt seems most likely to return the soonest.
The days of Hamels being a starting pitcher are long gone. At age 37, Hamels is reaching the end of his career and is hoping for one more shot at a World Series championship. The Astros could be that shot. The World Series Most Valuable Player in 2008 with the Phillies, Hamels would bring a much-needed veteran presence to this bullpen.
The most obvious concern is the recovery from his injuries. Will the shoulder hold up? Will the tricep tendonitis return? These are all questions that the Astros will have to consider, but given how well the Astros develop their players, the club would work with Hamels and ease him into his new role.
As we get closer to the trade deadline, there has been much talk about whether or not the Astros are keen on trading for a top reliever, such as Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel would bring a much-needed boost to this bullpen, but with the farm system slowly starting to see replenishment, the Astros would likely have to give up a key prospect or two to land Kimbrel. Something James Click may not want to do.
Bringing in Hamels would be a safer option given the present situation. The Astros would use Hamels in their piggyback system, something manager Dusty Baker likes to employ from time to time. This would ensure that the workload is not too great for Hamels but will also guarantee Hamels gets opportunities. Another scenario is that Justin Verlander should be returning at some point this season. Verlander will most certainly be working out of the bullpen.
To have both Hamels and Verlander in the bullpen in October, at the same time, will give Astros fans something to get excited about. Hamels may not be the flashiest of names, but, considering his resume, he has definitely earned the right to be considered for any option that might help the Astros win a second World Series championship.
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