The Baltimore Orioles (74-59) have been missing an important link in their ever-changing starting rotation over the last two months, although you wouldn’t be able to tell by glancing at their impressive record.
Jason Hammel (8-6, 3.54 ERA) was putting together the best season of his career before a knee injury sidelined him with surgery on July 15. At the time, he sported an 8-6 record with a 3.54 ERA, not to mention he was leading the Orioles starters in wins and ERA when he landed on the DL.
Although Hammel lasted with the team until the All-Star break, he should have pulled himself of the rotation sooner. Over his last four outings, he went 0-4 and allowed 17 earned runs over just 19.2 innings of work (7.97 ERA).
Prior to his four-game losing streak, Hammel was on a roll. After he tossed eight strong innings of one-run ball (which was unearned) and picked up his eighth win of the year against the Nationals, he fell apart. On June 22 he was 8-2 with a 2.61 ERA over his first 14 starts of the year.
Right out of the gate, Hammel jumped out to a great start with his new team. He debuted on April 8 against the Twins. He tossed an impressive eight innings of work and allowed just one earned run as he received his first victory with the Birds.
There is no doubt that Hammel is one of the main reasons why the Orioles had so much success in the first half of the year. He was their balance at the top of the rotation, and they need him back for the last month of the season.
Check out my five reasons why the Orioles will overcome the Yankees in the AL East when Hammel returns to the starting rotation.