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.