Texas Rangers

Cole Hamels at ease being Rangers’ No. 3 starter ... for now

Rangers starting pitcher Cole Hamels starts Game 3 against the Indians Wednesday at Globe Life Park.
Rangers starting pitcher Cole Hamels starts Game 3 against the Indians Wednesday at Globe Life Park. rmallison@star-telegram.com

Cole Hamels isn’t your typical Game 3 starter. In fact, he started Opening Day a year ago and took the ball in Game 1 of the ALDS in October.

At 33, Hamels is the elder statesman of the staff and his spot in the rotation is not something that concerns him.

Cole Hamels has pitched at least 200 innings the past seven seasons.

“Truthfully, it’s just a number associated with who is pitching at a given time,” the left-hander said. “You can ask any of us, when it’s our day to pitch it’s our day to pitch. We’re the main guy, we’re the main focus. So we don’t look at it as a given number.”

1.306Cole Hamels’ 2016 WHIP (walks and hits per inning) was a career high after walking a career-high 77 batters.

Hamels enters 2017 with seven consecutive 200-plus seasons. He walked a career-high 77 batters in ’16, up 15 from the previous season. He struckout 200 batters in ’16 but had a career-high 1.306 WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning).

Hamels, however, feels as strong as ever beginning his 12th season in the majors.

“Every year you gain the mental awareness and mental toughness,” he said. “Physically you’re trying to push yourself a little more. Every year I feel like I’ve gotten a little stronger, trying to push my body to the highest level.”

Pitching behind Yu Darvish and Martin Perez, at least to begin the season, is a testament to the quality starters the Rangers think they have.

It’s up to our starters to make sure we get the ball into [the bullpen’s] hands and our offense has enough runs and we can shut the door down and get a W.

Rangers LHP Cole Hamels

“Especially when we get back [Andrew] Cashner, and Tyson Ross and even A.J. [Griffin] ... we have good staff that can put up really good numbers at any given moment,” he said. “We can all pitch deep into a ball game which I think is going to be very beneficial because of our bullpen. We have such a strong bullpen. But we’ve got to try and keep it as fresh as possible. We’ve got a lot of work to do to get to that seventh or eighth inning so we can alleviate the kind of pressure that can build on them.”

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST