Jason Hammel, Smoke In Mirrors?

July 24, 2013 | Tim Jones

How often does a team’s number one starter fall so far into the rotation that they are now that same teams number five. Not often but with the Orioles, it seems as if it’s almost an annual occurrence. Jake Arrieta, 2012’s opening day starter was projected to be the ace of the Orioles rotation in the 2012 season, but he was cursed by lack luster performances in which he was jettisoned out of the rotation to the bullpen and even bounced back and forth between Norfolk and the major league club. Now the Orioles seem to be in a similar boat with Jason Hammel.

Hammel is 7-7 after last night’s 3-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals. And as the 2013 season keeps moving along, it seems more and more that Jason Hammel is not the pitcher that we the Orioles faithful might have thought he was. After he went 8-6 in an injury plagued season, he showed signs of hope that the Orioles finally had their front of the line starter. He logged a career low 3.43 ERA last season and even had a complete game shutout. Now that Hammel has started 20 games this season (the same number of games he started last year) his numbers are inflated. Keep in mind he has only pitched one third of an inning less this season than last season, so the wear and tear on his arm isn’t all that different than where it was last season.

Hitters are clearly seeing the ball better against him with his hits up by 30 hits, he’s given up 23 more earned runs, and his strike outs are down dramatically. So maybe his numbers of 2012 were an aberration. His track record sure points to it.

With the impending trade deadline also around the corner, Hammel’s job may be on the line. The Orioles are still actively involved on the trade front even after making a splash by acquiring Scott Feldman and Francisco Rodriguez. Multiple reports have the birds interested in some of the Houston Astros starting pitchers including Bud Norris and yes Erik Bedard. If the Orioles make a move for either pitcher, I would not be surprised to see Jason Hammel be a piece in that trade, or be pushed back into the bullpen to accommodate the new starter. Either way, Jason Hammel is not who we thought he was.

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