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Wyatt Shipman, Sports Writer

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The Cubs made two key acquisitions of Cole Hamels and Daniel Murphy going into a tight pennant race. Since joining the squad, the two veterans have done their part in helping the Cubs win ball games.

Hamels, who was acquired a week prior to the trade deadline from the Texas Rangers, didn’t have the best first half. Pitching in the hitter-friendly Globe Life Park, he started the year with a not so convincing record of 5-9 and an ERA of 4.72.

Numbers like those aren’t ideal for a club like Chicago with goals of reaching the World Series, but Manager Joe Maddon thought a change of scenery would help Hamels get into a groove and offer a needed boost to the backend of the rotation.

Maddon was right.

Since joining the Cubs, Hamels has been on a roll. In his first eight starts he’s 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA. In fact, he owns the lowest ERA for a Cub in their first five starts with a 0.69.

Pitching struggles were ultimately what caused the Cubs demise in the NLCS last season and in a tight pennant race this year keeping these numbers up would prove to be huge for Hamels and the club.

Murphy, Cubs most recent acquisition, is doing everything in his power to make sure the Cubs win the tightly contested NL Central, including hitting two home runs in his Cubs debut.

Since Murphy was acquired from the Washington Nationals via trade waivers on Aug. 21, the club has won 12 of their 16 games and Murphy has posted an impressive line of four HR’s, seven RBI’s, and .290 batting average.

In just 56 games with Washington this season, Murphy had good numbers, hitting an even .300 with six HR’s and 29 RBI’s, which is why the Cubs were surprised to see he was still available after 13 other National League teams had the opportunity to acquire him.

Ironically enough Murphy was dubbed the ‘Cub Killer’ back in 2015 when he put up monster numbers and his former team the New York Mets swept the Cubs in the NLCS.

Murphy’s utility as an infielder paired with the pop in his bat will make him a valuable piece off the bench in October.

The acquisitions of Hamels and Murphy have so far panned out for the North siders and with the way the two are playing, they could prove to be valuable pieces come the postseason.

Following a series with the Brewers the Cubs finish up the season with a relatively easy schedule.
They’ll round out the season against division rival St. Louis and hopefully take home the NL Central crown.

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