New addition Cole Hamels 'always wanted to play' for Cubs

ST. LOUIS -- New Chicago Cubs pitcher Cole Hamels isn't worried about finding success again after struggling for much of the season, especially in July, when he posted an 11.12 ERA for his old team, the Texas Rangers.

"You get a little bit of revitalized energy," Hamels said Saturday of joining the first-place Cubs. "There's something that you're playing for and I think that takes into effect and ups your game."

Hamels arrived in St. Louis midday and said hello to his new teammates, including a former one in Yu Darvish. He thinks a healthy Darvish, to go along with himself and the ace of the staff, Jon Lester, can make a formidable group.

"He's unbelievable," Hamels said of Darvish. "He has wipeout stuff. When he gets healthy, it's going to be a pretty devastating pitching rotation. Just happy to be a part of it."

The Cubs could use the help, as their pitching staff has posted a 4.63 ERA this month, fifth worst in the National League. Most of the problems have come from the starting pitchers, who dropped to ninth in the NL in ERA after Jose Quintana gave up six runs in the first inning on Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Hamels will make his debut on Wednesday, in Pittsburgh, hoping to help stabilize a ragged group right now.

"This was a place I always wanted to play," Hamels said. "I've had the utmost respect for Theo [Epstein] and what he's been able to accomplish."

Hamels indicated he was a Cubs fan growing up in Southern California, as he would "come home from school" and watch them on Superstation WGN. In 2015, he threw a no-hitter at Wrigley Field as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

"Everything was working the way I was capable of having it," Hamels said. "When you can line up four pitches and they go exactly where you want, those are results you expect but don't always get."

This season has been a far cry from those glory days in the National League. Hamels had given up 23 home runs in Texas for one of the worst staffs in baseball. His WHIP against lefties is 1.83.

"July was not a fun month," he said. "This whole year I was struggling mechanically. I think I got away with a few games. It was a struggle to get right."

Hamels claims he was being stubborn with a two-seam fastball he has tried to develop over the past couple of years. He hasn't been able to locate it, leading to 10 walks this season in 15 1/3 innings against left-handed hitters.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, lefties are hitting .364 and slugging .515 on at-bats ending on his two-seamer. But Hamels says he has made adjustments and thinks the results will come.

"I feel confident it will translate here," he said. "When you get your mindset right, the pitching part is easy."

Hamels has come full circle, as he helped beat the Joe Maddon-led Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 as a member of the Phillies, taking home World Series MVP. Now, he'll attempt to help Maddon win his second World Series in three years, then maybe have a toast with the wine-drinking manager of the Cubs.

"When he's on the field, I do well," Hamels said when reminded of 2008. "If he's somewhere on the field, I pitch well ... And I guess I'll have wine later."