The Chicago Cubs handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first weekend loss of the season on Sunday. Playing huge parts in avoiding the sweep was starting pitcher Jason Hammel and shortstop Starlin Castro, both of whom continue to carry the Cubs during the month of April.
Hammel took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the team with the best record in the league up to this point of the season. Under the radar, Hammel has been good all season long so far for Chicago. In five starts, he has tossed five quality starts. Of the Cubs’ eight wins, Hammel owns four of them. While his few mistakes on the season have been on hits that have left the park, Hammel has really minimized damage well during his outings. What has really helped the right-hander is a nearly 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
Helping Hammel on offense was Castro who had three hits including two home runs. It was Castro’s second multi-home run game of his career, and both have come during the 2014 season. His renewed bat in the middle of the Chicago lineup has really helped the young shortstop regain confidence at the plate.
As the Cubs continue to grind during games, the strong starts to the season by both Hammel and Castro are encouraging signs. While there is no doubt that Castro is in the long-term plans of the Cubs, the question is if Hammel is also in those plans. If Hammel continues to pitch in dominant form, will it lead to an extension with Chicago or does it make him another attractive trade piece come the deadline? Hammel could become the latest turn-and-burn player in the rebuilding process on the North side. In the meantime, both hope to continue their strong play going into the second month of the season.
Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.