Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Last season Jason Hammel turned in a career year despite starting only 20 games. I wrote about him in the preseason and have targeted him in all my leagues this year. However, in two starts this year (12.2 IP), Hammel has turned in a very strange stat line.While his 0.87 WHIP is sparking, his 4.97 ERA is far from it. In fact, Hammel is the only qualified pitcher so far this year to have an ERA above 4.00 and a WHIP under 1.00. But the strangest stat of all is the fact that Hammel has only struck out just five batters, good for a pathetic 3.55 K/9.I realize that two starts is a very small sample size, and it would be ridiculous to think that his K/9 stays this low. The last qualified starter to finish the year with a K/9 worse than 3.55 was Livan Hernandez back in 2008, and I would be shocked if Hammel doesn’t manage to increase his strikeout rate. The real question is will he strike out batters closer to his career line (6.53 K/9) or his breakout 2012 season (8.62 K/9)?Hammel’s pitching arsenalWhen looking at pitchers’ numbers, it’s important to think about why their numbers have either stayed the same or differed from the past. It usully begins and ends with their pitch selection and velocities. Check out Hammels’s pitching arsenal over the last few years.One of the big reasons that Hammel struck out more batters in 2012 was the fact that he incorporated a sinker into his repertoire. From 2007-2011, he relied mostly on his fastball, throwing it an average of 61% of the time. Last year Hammel not only added a sinker, but threw it more than any other pitch (31%), while relying on his fastball much less (29%). Not only did adding the sinker help mix up hitters, but it also helped Hammel generate more ground balls (53.2 GB% in 2012).This year, Hammel is using his pitches at almost the same frequency as last year. He’s using his fastball slightly more and his curveball slightly less, but aside from that he has been pitching the same (small sample size aside). However the velocity on Hammel’s pitches has decreased by about 1.0 mph each, and now sits closer to his 2011 numbers. While his fastball might not be as overpowering as it was, his change-up velocity has decreased as well. The separation between pitch speeds isn’t an issue.Looking ahead to 2013Unless his velocity returns, I don’t think Hammel can top his 8.62 K/9 from last year, although he should easily surpass the 6.25 K/9 he averaged in the other six years of his career. Assuming no major changes, I would project Hammel to finish the year with a K/9 right around 8.00. Assuming he can still keep the ball on the ground frequently and maintain his good control (career 3.12 BB/9), he shouldn’t have a problem posting an above average ERA and WHIP as well.Buy low on Hammel, or pick him up if you can -– he’s available in 49% of Yahoo! Leagues and 83% of ESPN leagues. Depending on your league format, he would likely be a 5th or 6th starter, but will give you the numbers of a 3rd or 4th starter. There’s a lot of value here, so use his slow start to your advantage and make sure you own Hammel!
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

MLBPA reacts to Kris Bryant's minor league assignment

Gregg Marshall's show canceled, Bama speculation grows

Report: Shaka Smart in discussions with Texas

Report: Rick Barnes expected to land at Tennessee

Demaryius Thomas planning to skip Broncos' workouts

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Rockets GM: We think we can win NBA title despite injuries

Browns GM Ray Farmer suspended over text messages

Aaron Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box after murder

Byron Scott: Opposing players say they want to play for Lakers

Falcons reportedly will lose pick over pumping in crowd noise

Report: Sam Bradford wouldn't sign extension with Browns

10 winners and losers from the past week in the NFL

University of California soccer player found dead

Joe Namath parties with twin 100 year-old women

WATCH: Mike Napoli hits home run as bat shatters

WATCH: Marc Gasol misses shot, rips jersey in disgust

PHOTO: Minor league team to wear Jabba the Hutt jerseys

Lions LB DeAndre Levy takes ride on top of a moving plane

Colts owner addresses Indiana religious freedom bill

John Calipari addresses controversial ND comments

Arizona coach Sean Miller rips critics: 'Go cheer for ASU'

Report: NFL could push extra point back to 15-yard line

Urban Meyer: 'No issue' with Braxton Miller's Instagram post

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

10 winners and losers from the past week in the NFL

Namath parties with 100 yr-old women

Report: Shaka Smart talking to Texas

Rick Barnes to land at Tennessee?

Browns GM suspended for texts

Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box

Mayweather-Pacquiao: It's sparring tall-tale season

The MLBPA has a problem

Final Four preview: Can every team win?

Full WrestleMania 31 recap and results

Why Texas had to fire Rick Barnes

Craig Sager's leukemia has returned

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.