Cubs Jason Hammel: 'I sucked for three months'

Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel allowed back-to-back first-inning home runs in Chicago's 8-3 loss against the Mets. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel didn’t mince words in describing the second half of his season which included a four-out performance in the season finale won by the New York Mets 8-3 in Game 4 of the NLCS.

"I felt like I sucked for about three months," Hammel stated afterwards. "The first half was amazing. (Had) the injury and then I was a different guy."

Hammel simply couldn’t command his pitches for any length of time as he made a few good ones in the first inning on Wednesday while striking out David Wright and getting the dangerous Daniel Murphy on a pop up. But after not getting a borderline call on a 2-2 pitch to Lucas Duda he left a ball up. Duda hit it out then Travis d'Arnaud followed with a long one as well. The Cubs were down 4-0 before coming to the plate.

"Thought the pitch before was a pretty good pitch," Hammel said of the borderline one to Duda. "Didn’t get it. Then pitch up in the zone with the wind blowing out that’s what happens."

Hammel epitomized the frustrations with the Cubs pitching staff in the series. He was never going to last long into the game, just as Kyle Hendricks was penciled in for a four or five-inning stint. Meanwhile, the Mets threw one young star after another. And it’s not like the Cubs didn’t see this coming with Hammel as he had a 5.10 post all-star break ERA to go along with a 1.49 WHIP. They were playing with fire the whole second half of their season as their rotation was shaky until the final week of the regular season.

"I feel guilty for making those many mistakes," Hammel said. "I feel like I cost us a lot there."

Some credit has to go to the Mets, who scored in the first inning in every game of the series. On Wednesday, back-to-back first-inning home runs pretty much sealed the Cubs' fate, but as bad as Hammel was that’s how well the Mets played.

"That was a pretty impressive four games they played against us," manager Joe Maddon said. "They did not let us up for air at any point."

Hammel’s second-half issues place some doubt on his status for next year and might give the Cubs' front office even more incentive to acquire starting pitching. The Cubs' righty thinks he can find what’s been missing lately and get back to the Hammel of the first half, when his WHIP was under 1.00. He’s signed for one more year with a team option, and in the meantime the Cubs will search for some arms as the Mets exposed them with a much deeper rotation.

"You're going to look at always to augment your pitching, always," Maddon said. "That's just what you do."