Hammel doing too well to skip finale

Hammel doing too well to skip finale

DENVER -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy decided not to disturb a pattern that's working. So right-hander Jason Hammel will start Thursday night's finale of a three-game set with the Padres.

Veteran right-hander Aaron Cook, healthy after missing a month with a sore right shoulder, could have been slotted in for Thursday's game. The argument for that would have been an extra day's rest for Hammel, who held the D-backs to three runs and four hits in his previous start. Hammel received the decision in the 10-4 victory.

But the way Hammel is pitching, he doesn't need rest.

In his past 10 starts, Hammel is 4-2 with a 3.84 ERA. Just once in that period has he given up more than three earned runs in a contest. Even better, the Rockies are 7-3 in those starts.

One argument for keeping Hammel on normal rest and starting him against the Padres is he would avoid the Cardinals, who begin a three-game series at Coors Field on Friday. If the season had ended Tuesday, the Rockies -- leaders by four games in the National League Wild Card race -- would play the Cards in the NL Division Series.

Tracy's plan is to concentrate on settling the Wild Card race as quickly as possible, then concentrate on resting pitchers and players late.

"It's not necessarily to have him avoid them," Tracy said. "I think when you do the math, there's x-number of games that I feel we need to win. We could possibly create the opportunity for ourselves to have a few extra days than I thought we were going to have to make some further plans. Keeping Jason Hammel on his regular turn makes a lot of sense.

"Jason Hammel has done a yeoman's job when it comes to some of the opponents he has been pitted against. To give him that nice day off and then say, 'Oh, by the way, we've got [Cardinals ace] Chris Carpenter for you ...' Let's keep him on his normal day and pitch him against the Padres."

Pitching matchup
COL: RHP Jason Hammel (9-8, 4.35 ERA)
Hammel has a shot to join Jorge De La Rosa, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Marquis and Aaron Cook as Rockies starters to post a double-digit win total this season. Hammel should have done it before now, considering his mostly solid work. He earned the elusive ninth win Saturday at Arizona. He held the D-backs to three runs and four hits in seven innings. The game was close until the late innings, when the Rockies pulled away for a 10-4 victory.

SD: LHP Clayton Richard (8-5, 4.69 ERA)
Richard will be making his 11th start since being acquired from the White Sox. In his last start, Richard and Pittsburgh right-hander Ross Ohlendorf hooked up for a tight pitchers' duel, but neither was around for the decision in a 2-1 San Diego victory at PNC Park on Saturday. Richard pitched six innings and allowed one unearned run on four hits in the start.

Rockies outfielder Seth Smith leads the team in RBIs since Aug. 21 with 22. ... Rockies second baseman Clint Barmes has an eight-game hitting streak at Coors Field. ... The Padres have won three of the past five meetings with the Rockies, but Colorado holds a 10-7 advantage in a season series that ends on Thursday night.

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•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

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Up next
• Friday: Rockies (Aaron Cook, 10-6, 4.47) vs. Cardinals (Chris Carpenter, 16-4, 2.34), 6:10 p.m. MT
• Saturday: Rockies (Ubaldo Jimenez, 14-11, 3.47) vs. Cardinals (Adam Wainwright, 18-8, 2.59), 6:10 p.m. MT
• Sunday: Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa, 15-9, 4.42) vs. Cardinals (Kyle Lohse, 6-8, 4.81), 1:10 p.m. MT

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.