Rockies Giants BaseballMuch has been made about how well Edwin Jackson is pitching for Detroit. Of course, his emergence is only magnified with Matt Joyce still in triple-A and even more so by the recent demotion of Andy Sonnanstine.

Well, if that makes you want to vomit, then you will definitely want to sit down for this one.

After starting the season 0-3 after 5 starts, former Rays pitcher Jason Hammel is now 5-0 in his last 7 starts. He has a 4.01 ERA and a 31 to 10 strikeout-to-walk ratio. And those 5 straight wins is the longest active streak in the National League.

Bob Apodaca recently commented on Hammel’s emergence.

“I’m not surprised at all,” Apodaca said Saturday. “But I think his emphasis has changed. He thought of himself more as a breaking-ball pitcher. We needed to get him thinking about the importance of his fastball.”…And not just Hammel’s four-seamer that touched 94 mph Friday night, producing nine flyball outs. Hammel has added a two-seam fastball (sinker) to his repertoire…The bottom line, said Apodaca, is that Hammel has embraced the fastball as his primary weapon.

If there is a silver-lining to the emergence of Jackson and Hammel as very good starting pitchers, it is that the Rays will soon have a reputation as developers of great start pitching, much as the Braves were in the 90s.

Being able to consistently develop starting pitching will not only bode well for the Rays future on the field, but it will also increase the value of Rays starting pitchers and pitching prospects in the eyes of other franchises. When the Rays decide to trade any of their pitching in the future, other teams will look at the success of Jackson and Hammel, as well the pitchers in the Rays rotation, and the price for those players will only go up.

Hammel’s win streak doesn’t shock Apodaca [Denver Post]



  1. Gus says:

    But is it an indictment of Hickey/Maddon that with the brightest arms in baseball, they couldn't turn Hammel and EJ into anything until they left and with Kazmir and Price, the results aren't in, but so far the results haven't equaled the stuff (I'm thinking Kazmir was better before Madddon, but maybe that was the hype)?

    For a guy to look terrible in the back of a bullpen to a star (so far) in Coors Field and Apodaca's comments make it look pretty bad for Hickey. And EJ was so messed up in his approach late in 2008, I'm not sure whose fault it was.

    • I think you can say Rays/Hickey/Maddon helped those guys develop and put them in a position to be successful. Of course in both cases it took somebody else to get them over the top, but the Rays/Maddon/Hickey were able to get Shields and Garza over the top so you can't say they aren't able to do that. But what you do have in all cases is young starting pitchers developing into solid big leaguers. And the only common factor is they spent a significant amount of time under Rays watch.

  2. Scot says:

    With Hammel, I say this is a case of small sample size. It is also the case that at Coors - a mile above sea level, the most successful pitchers are ones who use speed variation and location, not movement on their pitchers. Hammel needed to change anyway to get better. Hammel is still the Rock's 5th best starter. Let's give it some time.

    Jackson is another story - his quality was never in doubt. At LA he really was a mess. And so think of the incredible improvement he made while at the D.Rays+Rays!

    I wish them both well.

  3. Gary Major says:

    No question that Hammel and Jackson have improved. One question is whether they would have been just as good this year for the Rays if put into a simlar position. Nothing like pitching in the A.L. East to show a pitcher's weaknesses. On the other hand, having experienced the A.L. East, both these guys probably feel they got the best training possible. Also, you have to consider that the number of games they have in the majors is now substantial (not true two years ago, or even a year ago).
    These are both guys who may have other faults, but their biggest while with the Rays was simply lack of experience. The most important question is whether the Rays would be better off (short term and long term) if we still had Jackson and Hammel as opposed to the current group of pitchers. How well they do for other teams in the future is irrelevant.

    • Gus says:

      How many games better would they be had they kept Hammel and/or EJ and not went with Sonny and Neiman? 5 or 6 maybe? I think that's pretty darn relevant. I actually think the Joyce trade could still work out; giving Hammel away for nothing is going to be viewed as a mistake though.

      One more reason though, many of us were urging a trade in August 2008 for Jason Bay or other RH help was because there is kind of a prospect glut right now, especially at starting pitcher, but also in the bully. I actually though Abreu being DFA'd was a mistake also. He might have helped them this season.


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