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Hamels gearing for Oct.: 'What I enjoy most'

@mlbbowman
September 15, 2020

Nearly a year since he last faced an opposing team and less than two weeks before the regular season concludes, Cole Hamels will make his season debut for the Braves and begin an accelerated preparation for the postseason. “I know this is kind of my Spring Training,” Hamels said. “But

Nearly a year since he last faced an opposing team and less than two weeks before the regular season concludes, Cole Hamels will make his season debut for the Braves and begin an accelerated preparation for the postseason.

“I know this is kind of my Spring Training,” Hamels said. “But I know what it takes to focus, to be able to get outs, to minimize damage, put up zeros and try to pitch as long as I can under a pitch count.”

When Hamels takes the mound at Camden Yards for the series finale against the Orioles on Wednesday night, he’ll aim to throw between 55-60 pitches, which might amount to four innings. If all goes well, the veteran lefty should be targeted for 80-90 pitches when he makes his third and final regular-season start within the Red Sox series, which will be played Sept. 25-27 at Truist Park.

Other than throwing live batting practice twice within the past nine days, Hamels has not pitched in a game situation since facing the Cardinals as a member of the Cubs on Sept. 28 of last year. He missed all of Spring Training with left shoulder inflammation and then developed what was termed as left triceps tendinitis one week into Summer Camp.

Hamels described the injury as a left elbow bone bruise. Regardless, the arm ailment forced him to miss nearly all of this shortened season.

“I do understand I’m a little bit older and I’m not healing as fast as a 22-year-old,” Hamels said. “But I had to do it right. I had to do it as best as I possibly could so that I could be of service here and a person they really could rely on here when it is crunch time. That’s what I enjoy most, the postseason.”

When the Braves signed Hamels to a one-year, $18 million deal this past offseason, they recognized the value he could provide as a veteran who had posted a 3.48 ERA over 16 playoff starts.

Hamels will now make $7 million this year with his prorated salary. That will equate to about $2.33 million per regular-season start. But if those three outings lead to a successful October, nobody will be complaining about the cost.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.