Jason Hammel's emergence as the Baltimore Orioles' best starting pitcher played a big role in the team's surprising success last season.
This year, they've managed to stay near the top of their division despite a far less effective Hammel.
The Orioles hope their struggling right-hander can get back on track Friday night when they open a three-game set against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.
Hammel (5-1, 4.93 ERA) was Baltimore's most consistent starter in 2012 despite winning only eight games. He missed nearly two months due to knee surgery but returned in time to pitch very well in two postseason starts.
The team leader in wins this season, Hammel's record is very deceiving. He's posted quality starts in only three of his eight outings and none in his last three. Hammel has won three straight decisions in a four-start span despite a 5.14 ERA, giving up 27 hits and 10 walks over 21 innings in those games.
He lasted a season-low four-plus innings at Minnesota on Friday after yieldi...