There is plenty of excitement and anticipation surrounding the Atlanta Braves as pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training today. However, for Cole Hamels, Spring Training got off to a rocky start.
For the Atlanta Braves, the enthusiasm of pitchers and catchers reporting was diminished when news of Cole Hamels ailing shoulder came out. Reportedly, Hamels felt some discomfort while working with a medicine ball. As of this morning, Hamels has yet to report to camp and has remained in Dallas. Since the news broke this morning, Alex Anthopoulos has made it official that Hamels will not be ready in time for Opening Day. Hamels will be re-evaluated in 3 weeks.
Today’s news is a big blow for the Atlanta Braves. After the team decided they would not be pursuing Dallas Keuchel, the Braves landed on a one-year, 18-million dollar deal. With Hamels, in the fold, the Braves projected Hamels to slot in at the 3rd or 4th spot in the rotation. Now, with Hamels missing Spring Training, the Braves will have to shift to Plan B.
For the Braves, Hamels wasn’t brought to Atlanta to just fill a spot in the rotation. Hamels is a veteran that has plenty of experience pitching in high leverage situations, including multiple NLCS and World Series games. For a team with so many young guys in the rotation still, the presence of Cole Hamels around this staff is extremely valuable. The Braves are counting on Hamels to fill the same role Dallas Keuchel did last season when he joined the team midseason.
While this situation is potentially disastrous for Cole Hamels and the Braves, there is a possible silver lining. Sean Newcomb, Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, and Felix Hernandez are all competing for the fifth and final spot in the starting rotation. With Hamels going down so early, this could push Newcomb or Hernandez do really up their game to snag one of these final spots. Same for Wilson and Wright, two guys who are on the edge of being full-time major leaguers with the Braves or possibly being traded in search of starting rotation opportunities elsewhere. The competition for the final rotation spot was already going to be heated. Now, it’s going to even more intense.
— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) February 12, 2020
Hopefully, Cole Hamels will get a clean bill of health in three weeks so he can start his Spring Training as soon as possible. The Braves have a big investment in Hamels going into this season. The team was counting on Hamels to be the inning-eating pitcher he’s always been. Let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best. Stay tuned for more news and updates on this situation as it plays out.