For whatever reason, it seems Jason Hammel is not getting the consistent sink on his fastball that he got last year for the Orioles. He had the best homer ratio of his career last season and now he has the worst.
He gave up just nine homers in 118 innings in 2012 and he has given up 18 in 100 2/3 in 2013. He has gone from 0.7 homers allowed every nine innings to 1.6 homers every nine innings.
As an aside, Chris Tillman has also given up 18 homers, so you can give up the longball and still pitch well. But Hammel's ERA is now 5.19.
He has gone from a ground-to-air out ratio of 1.47 last season to 1.07 this year. Why he is not getting the same sink and all those groundballs must be a mystery to him and the coaching staff.
Hammel didn't pitch poorly at all last night and he gave up three runs in his last inning. Plus he didn't get much offense to work with.
I still see Hammel making some big starts for this team down the stretch. He just needs to start getting the sink back on his fastball.
Scott Feldman makes his first Orioles start tonight and we await the overreaction that will inevitably follow. If he throws a strong game, a segment of the fans will call him the answer to the rotation's issues. If he struggles, he'll be a bust.
Actually, it will take a little longer than that to know. Feldman's stats this year with the Cubs resemble the numbers Joe Saunders put up for the Orioles last year. If that continues to be true, the O's will be delighted with this pickup.
Here is one big difference: The O's didn't get Saunders until late in August and now they get Feldman in early July. He can help the club for three months and not five weeks.
Adding Feldman and Wei-Yin Chen to the rotation will add nice depth to the starting five. The Orioles proved last year that you can win a lot of games with five middle-of-rotation-caliber (or just above that) pitchers and they may have that with those two joining the rotation.
The Orioles may have improved their present by giving up two pitchers whose futures with the club had become very uncertain.
Now if Hammel can just start giving up fewer homers ...