Philadelphia Phillies icon Cole Hamels, now a member of the Atlanta Braves, will open the 2020 season on the injured list, manager Brian Snitker said over the weekend.
Hamels, 36, would have started the 2020 season on the injured list if the season started on time, as he was dealing with a left shoulder injury. Now, the four-time All-Star is battling triceps tendinitis. Both of the injuries are concerning developments for Hamels, who had an oblique injury wreck a once-promising campaign in 2019.
When the 2008 World Series MVP reached free agency this offseason, he was vocal about a desire to potentially return to the Phillies. Instead, the Phillies committed $118 million to Zack Wheeler, and bet on a bounce-back season from Didi Gregorius, who they inked to a one-year/$14 million deal. Hamels signed with the Braves for $18 million on a one-year pact. MLB.com‘s Todd Zolecki reported that the Phillies offered Hamels “about half” of the money on a one-year deal than the Braves did.
The Braves were wildly successful a season ago in signing former American League MVP Josh Donaldson to a bounce-back deal, but he left this offseason to sign a monster contract with the Minnesota Twins. Braves’ general manager Alex Anthopoulos went back to that well this offseason, signing both Hamels and two-time All-Star outfielder Marcell Ozuna to one-year deals.
The Phillies won’t play the Braves until their 14th game of the season, meaning that when you factor off days in, Hamels could be back by the time that the Braves come to Citizens Bank Park on the weekend on Aug. 7.
If Hamels is able to return and pitch at an effective level in 2020, the Braves stand to have a pretty strong rotation to pair with a potentially elite lineup and perhaps the best bullpen in the sport. Mike Soroka posted a 2.68 ERA in 174.2 innings in a rookie season of 2019, and the team is hoping for a bounce-back season from 2018 All-Star Mike Foltynewicz. Additionally, Max Fried, Sean Newcomb and Kyle Wright will likely factor into the mix as well.
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