Should the Orioles re-unite with Jason Hammel?

Yesterday morning, while speaking with MLB Network Radio, Dan Duquette was quoted as saying, “we’d like to add another veteran pitcher”. When asked about Jason Hammel, Duquette said, “we like him, especially the way he pitched for us”, and didn’t rule out a possible reunion.

Hammel pitched for the Orioles in 2012, and 2013, appearing in 46 games, starting 43 of them. During his time in Baltimore, he went 15-14, with a 4.27 ERA. In 2012, through 20 starts, Hammel finished the season with a 3.43 ERA, but in 2013, he finished with a much higher 4.97 ERA. Each season he was with the Orioles though, he was impacted by an injury of some sort.

In 2012, he missed seven weeks due to arthroscopic surgery to remove a piece of cartilage from his right knee. The same knee was re-injured in September of that season in a game versus the Rays where he landed on the knee awkwardly. He was subsequently removed from the game, and shutdown for the season.

The following season, Hammel missed the entire month of August due to inflammation in his pitching elbow. He was forced to have an MRI which revealed the swelling to be central to his ulnar nerve. Hammel returned to the mound to make five appearances (two starts) in September, posting a 3.31 ERA in 16.1 innings. In split-time as a starter, and reliever, Hammel faced 65 batters, limiting them to a .242 average.

Hammel was signed on a one-year, $6MM deal, in February of 2014, and was part of a trade that sent him, and fellow pitcher Jeff Samardzija to the Athletics, in exchange for minor leaguer Billy McKinney, Addison Russell, Dan Straily, and cash considerations.

Hammel made 13 appearances (12 starts) for Oakland, finishing the 2014 season with a 4.26 ERA, and a 2-6 record.

His re-juvenation seems to have come during his time with the Cubs. In 78 starts with the 2016 World Champions (still pretty awesome to say that, to be completely honest), Hammel has pitched to a 33-22 overall record, with an ERA of 3.59, his best of any team.

Last season, Hammel threw 166.2 innings, finishing 15-10, with an ERA of 3.83, in 30 starts. He limited opposing right-handed hitters to a slash line of just .238/.279/.400, and lefties slashed .239/.342/.455 against him. With RISP, Hammel allowed just a .238 average to any batter, and was virtually untouchable throughout the month of April, finishing with a 0.75 ERA in 24 innings through four starts.

What benefit would Jason Hammel bring to a starting rotation that had the third worst ERA in the AL, as mentioned yesterday, at 4.72, and hypothetically speaking of course, who would he replace?

Hammel would bring back to Baltimore a career 3.99 first half ERA, however, he does seem to tire down the stretch, as he has a career 5.06 ERA after the All-Star break. More specifically, in the final two months of the season, Hammel has a 4.74 ERA in August, and a 5.04 ERA in September/October. Also, Hammel does bring the injury tag back with him, as he has been dealing with injuries throughout the past few seasons.

One would have to speculate that he would take over Wade Miley’s position in the rotation, which would allow Miley to possibly be used as a long man from the bullpen. Last season, in high leverage situations, Hammel allowed just a .125 batting average in 36 plate appearances to opposing hitters. Wade Miley allowed a whopping .424 in 158 plate appearances.

Hammel has Miley in a few other important categories, also. In terms of WPA last season, Hammel finished with a 1.01, while Miley finished the season with a -2.88. Regarding WHIP, Hammel finished with a 1.21, and Miley with a 1.42. Hammel stranded 76% of runners on base, and Miley stranded 68.6%, and Hammel’s overall WAR is 12.9, to Miley’s 8.2.

Can Jason Hammel stay healthy, if a return to Baltimore occurred?

In 2015, Hammel dealt with hamstring discomfort in July, however, he didn’t miss a start ┬ábecause of when the injury occurred, and when the All-Star break took place. Last season, Hammel was in almost the same situation, with cramps in the hamstring, however, again, he didn’t miss any time. Both of those injuries caused him to be removed from his start, and nothing more.

If the Orioles were to bring Hammel back to Baltimore, its not going to be for cheap. Hammel’s market value, according to Spotrac, is $45.6MM for three years. I think it’d be safe to say that the Orioles won’t be willing to go $15.2MM per year, however, they may be inclined to go $12MM for two years. That’s under his market value, sure, but as the offseason progresses, market values decrease.

If there’s going to be a reunion between Hammel, and the Orioles, don’t expect anything to be announced anytime soon. This could wind up being a mid-February type signing, right before the full squad reports to Sarasota.

 

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