The Dodgers in the second half were in desperate need of starting pitching, and tried many avenues. One of those included taking a flier on veteran Cole Hamels.
Biceps tendinitis and shoulder fatigue limited Hamels to just one start and 3⅓ innings with Atlanta in 2020. Hamels remained unsigned through the All-Star break, and held a showcase workout in July in Texas for interested teams.
That led to an agreement with the Dodgers, finalized on August 4, that paid Cole Hamels $1 million for the remainder of the season plus incentives, in hopes he would be able to help at some point down the stretch. A full 12 years removed from Hamels going 3-0 in four NLCS starts against the Dodgers in 2008-09.
After Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler, and Julio Urías, the Dodgers scrambled to fill innings. David Price was nearing the end of his effectiveness rope, and starters Clayton Kershaw and Tony Gonsolin were on the injured list and would not return until September. Danny Duffy was acquired from the Royals on July 29, but was also on the injured list, with similar hopes of pitching some role and some point in the season’s final weeks.
The plan for Hamels was to rehab at the Dodgers facility at Camelback Ranch, building up innings until ready to rejoin the majors. The left-hander agreed to be optioned to the minors, and his contract had a clause that required him to be called up no later than September 2.
Up first was a simulated game at Dodger Stadium on August 7 that was supposed to be two innings, but Hamels after taking with coaches and trainers walked off the field after just one simulated frame.
After the simulated game, manager Dave Roberts said having Hamels pitch only one inning was part of the plan. It didn’t seem right at the time, and the skepticism was warranted, with Hamels placed on the 60-day injured list on August 16, ending his season before it began.
Hamels was a gamble for the Dodgers, needing quality innings wherever they could find it. A durable rotation horse with nine straight years of 30 or more starts, even the slightly-diminished, later-stage Hamels would have been useful. He averaged 28 starts, 160 innings, and a 117 ERA+ from 2017-19.
But like Duffy, who also ended the season on the IL without having pitched for the Dodgers, Hamels just didn’t work out. Hamels will head into 2022 having pitched only one game in the previous two years.
Stats: Did not pitch
Salary: $1 million
Hamels is a free agent.