Hamels falters at end, looks to rebound in '18

Rangers' ace won 11 games in injury-plagued year

Hamels falters at end, looks to rebound in '18

ARLINGTON -- The 2017 season wasn't as kind to Cole Hamels as previous ones had been.

His ERA of 4.20 was the highest it's been since the 2009 season, and he lost his final two starts at Globe Life Park, including Sunday's 5-2 loss to the A's, after going 16-2 over his first 32 there. When the Rangers were scrapping for a playoff spot, he wasn't his usual top-of-the-rotation self.

"All in all, didn't hit any of the goals [I set], so I think that's kind of the tough part," the 33-year-old Hamels said. "At least during a season, you can at least say you hit one of your realistic goals.

"Injury can definitely put a damper on any sort of realistic goal, but sometimes the postseason can kind of cover that up and make things all that much better. Unfortunately with us not being able to do so, you just have to readjust."

Hamels gets hit, stays with play

He went two months between starts after an oblique injury in April, and while Hamels bounced back to resemble his old self for a while, it slipped away near the end of the season. He allowed fewer than three runs just twice in six September starts.

"You look at the record, he was 11-6. I felt there were some outstanding starts for the most part. Obviously he had a little bit of a slow start," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "It took him awhile to get into a groove, get to the normal Cole Hamels. He hit his stride for awhile.

"A lot of positives in our opinion with Cole's year. Obviously if you ask him, he'll tell you he has got to be much better."

Banister on Hamels, Beltre

Hamels started Sunday's season finale, but it was more of a chance to hope that he would be able to correct a few mistakes he noticed during his last outing, so he only pitched three innings.

He felt he made those adjustments, which he said will give him a boost heading into the offseason and through Spring Training when the Rangers will aim to right the ship after this year.

"I really felt like I really had all five pitches working at one point during this game, and that's kind of the comforting feeling," Hamels said. "It's knowing that I was able to at least get the feel for that and understanding what it's going to take when I come into spring, just so that I can correct things a lot quicker and ... I'll be able to have the result."

The Rangers will need him to be the Hamels of old if the playoffs are to be a feasible goal. Currently they have just two members of the starting rotation solidified -- he and Martin Perez -- so while the uncertainty plays itself out there, they'll be counting on Hamels.

Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arlington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.