Cole Hamels was 10-11 with a 4.32
ERA during the regular season. His 6.75 ERA over three starts during
the postseason was enough for Charlie Manuel to opt for Pedro Martinez
in Thursday’s Game 2 rather than last season’s World Series MVP,
prompting many to wonder, “What’s wrong with King Cole?” The truth? Not
as much as you might think.
To start with, some might be
surprised to learn that his peripheral stats have remained fairly
stable, if not better in some cases, than 2008:
2008: 7.76 K/9, 2.10 BB/9, 1.11 HR/9
2009: 7.81 K/9, 2.00 BB/9, 1.12 HR/9
While his peripheral stats have
remained constant, Hamels has been especially unlucky in BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play), seeing
it jump from .270 in 2008 to .325 this season. Thus, while his ERA
inflated to 4.32 from 3.09 in 2008, his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is exactly the same over the past two seasons (3.72).
Most pitchers are victims or
beneficiaries of fluctuations in BABIP from year-to-year, but Manuel
thinks the league has become more familiar with Hamels’ repertoire. His
curveball has been largely unreliable in 2009 (-4.5 RAA/100, according to Fangraphs), allowing opposing batters to sit on his fastball-changeup combination.
“I don’t know if the league has figured him out,” Manuel said. “I think
the league knows more about him and sits on his fastball or change-up.
They can spend a whole at-bat totally looking for that pitch.’‘
Hamels plans to add a fourth
pitch during the offseason, and he needs to look no further than his
opponent Andy Pettitte on Saturday in order to see why. As Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley
pointed out earlier today, he has a varied arsenal of pitches to rely on from game-to-game. While a fourth pitch will have to wait until next season, don’t be surprised to see his luck finally even out in Game 3.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.