Less than a year after signing big extension, Cole Hamels leads NL in losses

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Despite pitching well throughout most of today’s game against the Rockies, Phillies starter Cole Hamels was once again saddled with a loss, his tenth of the season. Aside from a solo home run by Wilin Rosario in the second, Hamels stayed out of trouble in six innings. In the seventh, frustration with home plate umpire Marvin Hudson’s inconsistent strike zone and his offense’s Little League approach to hitting elicited a rare emotional outburst from the left-hander. The Rockies scored two more runs off of Hamels in the seventh, and another two off of Justin De Fratus in the eighth as they went on to win 5-2.

Hamels certainly started off the year pitching poorly, but he has come on as of late. Over his last six starts spanning 37.1 innings, Hamels has struck out 42, walked four, and allowed only three home runs. In those starts, he is 1-4 and has received a grand total of 17 runs of support. Only 12 of those runs were scored while Hamels was the pitcher of record.

The Phillies signed Hamels to a six-year, $144 million contract extension on July 25 last year, locking up the lefty through at least 2018, when he will be 34 years old.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉