Hamels' stock may depend on next start

Phillies' ace has one more scheduled outing prior to non-waiver Trade Deadline

Hamels' stock may depend on next start

CHICAGO -- Cole Hamels has had one heck of a career, but in the past week, the Phillies and Hamels have had to remind people about it.

Hamels is scheduled to make his final start before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline on Saturday afternoon against the Cubs, unless somebody skips a turn in the rotation and he pitches Thursday. He needs a good one, too. Hamels has posted a 19.89 ERA in his past two starts, and he has allowed five or more runs in six of 19 starts this season. Only four pitchers have had more five-plus-run starts this season (Shane Greene, Kyle Lohse, Kyle Kendrick and John Danks).

"I expect to see him pitch like himself every time he goes out," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said Friday. "The last two outings were hopefully an anomaly. The stuff was there. The command wasn't. You know what he's capable of doing."

Hamels' seven scoreless frames

But if Hamels produces another clunker, it is hard to imagine a contending team giving up a couple top prospects for him, regardless of his career numbers.

"If I were with another team, I would just be looking at the stuff," Mackanin said.

The Phils could wait until the offseason to deal Hamels, who has been linked to the Dodgers, Cubs, Rangers, Red Sox and others. Keep an eye on Texas.

Disgruntled closer Jonathan Papelbon also could stick around, which would be fascinating to watch if it happens. He has made it incredibly clear he wants out of Philadelphia.

Papelbon chatted up Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer before Friday's game. Chicago had expressed some interest in Papelbon, and both front-office members know him from their time with Boston, but it does not mean anything is cooking.

"One thing about Pap, he's a bit peculiar, as we all know," Mackanin said. "But when he goes on the mound, he does his job. He's a fierce competitor. We don't worry about him when he's on the mound."

Papelbon closes out the 9th

Of course, one wonders if Papelbon's public criticisms of the Phillies over the years could make some general managers and owners tentative about acquiring him. Papelbon generally has been fine in Philadelphia's clubhouse, but perception may become reality.

Could Papelbon become a disruption if he remains with the team on Aug. 1?

"It's a consideration. Apparently, he would like to be traded. He's come out and said it," Mackanin said. "If not, we'll just have to wait and see."

• Third baseman Maikel Franco returned to the lineup Friday after being pulled from Monday's game because of a sore right elbow.

"He's fine," Mackanin said. "It wasn't as serious as we thought it could be."

• Mackanin said he does not have an official No. 1 catcher at the moment. Cameron Rupp has started 15 games since June 20. Carlos Ruiz has started 12.

"We want to see Rupp as much as we can," Mackanin said. "We know what Chooch is and what he has been."

• Right-hander Aaron Harang is on the DL with plantar fasciitis. He said he could begin a rehab assignment early next week.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.