Examining Cole Hamels' role with the Braves in 2020

Bill Shanks

When he was signed, most believed Cole Hamels would be that veteran leader on a starting staff full of young kids. And then a freak injury sidelined him for spring training and made his Braves debut questionable.

Now, three-plus months later, we're still not sure of when Hamels will be ready. He was expected to throw a bullpen on flat ground last Friday. Perhaps if that went well, and the next few weeks also fall into place perfectly, Hamels can be counted on.

But to start the season? Not sure. And even if he does start the season on the roster, how careful will the Braves be with him?

Chances are Hamels will be in a piggyback situation with another starting pitcher - maybe a Sean Newcomb or a Kyle Wright or even a Josh Tomlin. Hamels will go the first three innings or so, and then another pitcher would bridge that gap until the seventh or eighth inning for the bullpen to take control.

Who really cares whether Hamels is ready to start the season on the active roster. Just get him ready for September. Isn't that the key? Yes, it is. The Braves need a healthy Hamels for the last four weeks of the season, when the team is hopefully going for their third straight division championship.

Hamels has pitched in 17 postseason games and made 16 starts. That experience could be tremendous for the Braves in October. Of course, they've got to get there, and over the course of the 60-game regular season the team will need Hamels' help there, as well. 

Just make sure Hamels is healthy, and the Braves will probably see some return on their investment.

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