How many more starts can Cubs afford to give Jason Hammel?

Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel isn’t giving manager Joe Maddon much reason to put faith in him down the stretch.

Hammel hasn’t pitched well and that continued in Tuesday’s 10-8 loss to the Tigers. Hammel lasted just three innings, surrendering five runs on three homers, two in the first inning and one in the second. He might have lasted longer in the game and had a chance to straighten things out, but a lengthy rain delay ended his night.

Hammel didn’t get the loss, but he sure didn’t give the Cubs much of a fighting chance early on. In is last 11 starts, Hammel (6-5) is 1-3 with seven no-decisions. For a club battling to keep its grip on the second wild-card spot, spotty starts can be costly.

“It’s one of those nights where it seemed like they knew what was coming,” Hammel told reporters after the game. “It’s unacceptable right now. We’re in the middle of something special.”

Maddon had a quick hook for Hammels in his lasts two starts, which opens questions to how Maddon feels about his starter heading into the most crucial part of the season. The Cubs need Hammel to be on his game if they’re going to fend off the Giants for the second wild-card spot and have a chance to catch Pittsburgh for home-field advantage in the one-game wild-card playoff.

Maddon had a pretty simple explanation: “He’s trying like way too hard," the manager said.

(h/t CSN Chicago)