By KEVIN MCALPIN
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – While it took a lot longer than anyone could’ve anticipated seven months ago, Cole Hamels makes his return to a Major League mound tonight, as the Braves and Orioles wrap up their three game series in Baltimore. The 36 year old southpaw missed all of Spring Training with left shoulder inflammation, and missed Summer Camp with left triceps tendinitis, but over the last few weeks, has been able to ramp things up without any issues. Hamels return should help provide some veteran stability to a rotation that has been a revolving door through the first 48 games of the 2020 season.
The former World Series MVP had a chance to speak with the media on Tuesday, ahead of tonight’s start, and you could tell early on he was ready to go. “To be around the guys, get back the feel in this environment…this is fun to be around. It just gets you reenergized again. It’s something I know I love to do and I’m excited to be able to do it in a Braves uniform” Hamels said in anticipation of tonight’s outing. Hamels will likely get three starts before the Postseason rolls around at the end of the month, which would put him at the 90-100 pitch mark come October.
While Hamels will be a great asset to a very young and inexperienced Braves rotation, his wisdom off the field will be equally as important. Hamels had the benefit of being around guys like Jamie Moyer, a 25 year Big Leaguer as well as Cy Young Award winners like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt in that Phillies rotation that was so dominant, going to back to back World Series in 2008 and 2009. Speaking of that 2008 World Series, Hamels took home the MVP honors, allowing four earned in two starts, leading the Phillies to their first title since 1980. While that was 12 years ago, having a veteran with 17 Postseason appearances under his belt is a huge lift to the staff as they look to advance beyond the first round of the Playoffs for the first time in 19 years.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet