Oh boy, things are already beginning to feel a lot like last year. Remember when Mike Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman, and Mike Soroka all felt discomfort in their throwing arm before the start of the season and were not ready for Opening Day? Well, the Braves already know one of the high-profile members of their rotation won’t be ready for Opening Day this season, as news surfaced today that Cole Hamels will be re-evaluated in three weeks due to shoulder inflammation. Alex Anthopoulos later confirmed he will not be ready for the start of the season.
Cole Hamels will not have time to be ready for opening-day roster, #Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos said. Hamels told them it's nothing serious. But missing 3 weeks at least, he won't have enough time to build up and be ready by opening day.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) February 12, 2020
The Braves are rightfully being cautious with the 14-year veteran, but this is a terrible sign considering he was a massive part of their offseason plan to complete their rotation, as they signed him to a one-year, $18 million contract. Unfortunately, that is already looking like it won’t be worth it. Anthopoulos said Hamels will not have enough time in Spring training to build up to where he needs to be to make a start in early April. There is currently no timetable for his return; however, if he is cleared to throw in three weeks, he could take the mound for the Braves in late April.
The Braves aren't ready to put a timetable on Hamels. But if he is cleared to begin throwing in three weeks, a late April return certainly seems possible.
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) February 12, 2020
No matter how you look at it, this is up there with the worst news the Braves could have received right before spring training. A 36-year-old that Atlanta is paying nearly $20 million this season already experiencing shoulder problems is a borderline nightmare, especially for a team that had pre-existing questions regarding their rotation. If there’s a glass-half-full way of looking at this, it’s that the Braves will be able to give one of their young prospects, or the legend Felix Hernandez, a shot early in the year. However, if Hamels is not back soon, this will be a huge problem, and one I’m not sure Anthopoulos can fix before the season.