Cole Hamels Dealing With Shoulder Fatigue

The Cubs received some welcome news Thursday when first baseman Anthony Rizzo, closer Craig Kimbrel and shortstop Addison Russell returned from injuries. But everything isn’t great on that front for the Cubs, who have scratched left-hander Cole Hamels from his Saturday start because of fatigue in his pitching shoulder, per Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Fellow southpaw Jose Quintana will take his place in that game – an enormous matchup against the archrival Cardinals.

There’s no word on whether Hamels will be able to pitch again this season, but his shoulder issue is one that has troubled him “for several weeks,” Bastian writes. It’s the latest health problem in what was already an injury-shortened season for Hamels, who sat out more than a month earlier in the summer because of an oblique strain. It may also help to explain the recent struggles the normally steady Hamels has endured of late. The 35-year-old hasn’t thrown more than 4 1/3 innings in any of his three September starts, during which he has yielded eight earned runs on 16 hits and 11 walks (with 13 strikeouts) in 11 frames.

Thanks in part to his woes this month, Hamels currently owns a 3.92 ERA (his highest since the end of May) with 8.83 K/9 and 3.66 BB/9 in 137 2/3 innings on the season. The fact that the longtime workhorse hasn’t held up throughout this year, not to mention his age, should bode poorly for him when he enters free agency after the season. In the here and now, though, a limited Hamels is a less-than-ideal development for Chicago, which is fighting for its life in a heated NL playoff race.