Cole Hamels’ Cut Fastball

Using the Baseball Analytics data, I went and looked at Cole Hamels‘ cut fastballs. Earlier in the season, fans weren’t too thrilled with it since it seemed like right-handed batters were killing it and Hamels didn’t know how to use it effectively.

Here’s a look at Hamels’ cutters against right-handed hitters from April through the end of June:

And Hamels’ cutters against RH from July through his last start in the NLCS:

Obviously, huge changes in results. In the second half, the cutter was put in play 23 times:

  • 11 ground balls
  • 8 fly balls
  • 3 pop-ups
  • 1 line drive

Of the 23 balls in play, only four were hits.

When Hamels was learning the cutter, it was thought of as nothing more than a show-me pitch. With dedication to improvement, Hamels has developed it into a legitimate out-inducer — likely why his K/9 went from 8.8 in the first half to 9.5 in the second half. He is no longer a predictable two-trick pony.

Hamels struggled yesterday in Game Three of the NLCS against the Giants, but it wasn’t because of his cutter; it was his four-seam fastball to right-handed hitters.

In 2010, when Hamels threw up and in to right-handed hitters, his wOBA against went from the 71st percentile to the 14th percentile. In the upper-right quadrant inside the strike zone, Hamels dropped to the 6th percentile.

While Hamels made great strides with his cut fastball, it was his bread and butter — the four-seamer — that failed him yesterday.

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  1. Phillies Red

    October 20, 2010 12:20 PM

    I thought Hamels looked great, honestly. The cutter was working, and man, so was that curve. He had some bad luck, and got some unfortunate calls on close pitches, but otherwise, he did just about all he could.

    This may not matter much now, but a 2011 Hamels with a low-mid 90s fastball, a low 90s cutter, a usable curve, and a devastating change could easily end up in the top 5 in SIERA.

  2. Phillies Red

    October 20, 2010 12:23 PM

    Did the cutter’s movement change, via pitch f/x? Any ideas where this vast improvement came from, or is it mostly just small sample size and variance?

  3. bill

    October 20, 2010 01:24 PM

    He really didn’t pitch that badly, I thought as well. Couple softly hit balls got through (Huff’s hit right off Utley’s glove – granted an *extremely* tough play, and Sanchez’s “hit” that Utley couldn’t see and misplayed).

    Take those two away (and they really easily could have been outs) it’s a 1-0 game and Hamels probably pitches another inning.

  4. Dave

    October 20, 2010 01:35 PM

    Cole definitely pitched well-enough to win, but a 3-0 game felt like a ten-run deficit yesterday.

    Just a small quibble:

    Cole had a 2-0 count his last at-bat and swung at a high fastball. Can’t the coaches give him a ‘take sign’ there? The Phillies needed base runners at that point.

    Sorry, my complaint over a pitcher’s at-bat can only mean that I’m quite irritable today.

    Ignore me and carry on.

  5. KH

    October 20, 2010 01:56 PM

    Cole hardly struggled yesterday.

  6. bob dee

    October 20, 2010 03:06 PM

    hamels definitely did not struggle. at least 1 runs could have been avoided with better defense & possibly 2, if anybody struggled it was uyley. & what’s with rollins, he hits the wall & only gets a single. What’s with that. After the 1st game you said doc struggle. give me a break. if ibanez make that catch we may have won. don’t official scorers give out error anymore.

  7. Richard

    October 20, 2010 03:19 PM

    what’s with Rollins, as you well know I’m sure, is that he has recently suffered from a hamstring problem–there is no point in trying to bust it for 2nd when he’s only one potential run with the Phillies down by 3 and one out already in the 9th…

  8. Scott G

    October 20, 2010 03:57 PM


    Thank you. I’ve been calling for take signs for a while now. It’s getting ridiculous. Did you know that against Jonathan Sanchez (someone as wild as J.C. Romero, 8 times players swung first pitch, 4 times they swung 1-0, and once they swung 2-0? That’s absurd considering he threw 35 pitches in the first. A lot of those swings I just mentioned were not strikes.

    Victorino also swung at a 3-1 ball yesterday that, had he taken, would have brought Chase Utley to the plate with the bases loaded.

  9. Scott G

    October 20, 2010 07:01 PM

    The manager is complaining that his team isn’t aggressive enough? (Besides the 1st inning for Sanchez) Does he want them swinging before they even make it to the batter’s box?

  10. Tim

    October 20, 2010 07:53 PM

    I’m sorry, I don’t know where else to post this: Can anyone ask me why the umpires are obviously screwing the Phils? The balk? The two inside balls called strike three on both Victorino and then Ruiz? Then the umpire called the very same pitch on Blanton a ball right after Ruiz! What the hell is going on? Does anyone know where the hell the strike zone is?? I’m sorry, I’m very upset.

  11. Scott G

    October 20, 2010 08:29 PM

    Charlie Chaplin Manuel just standing there not saying anything doesn’t help my anger.

  12. Bill Baer

    October 20, 2010 09:34 PM

    I don’t think the umpires are biased against the Phillies; they’re just terrible. They’ve called a few in the Phillies’ favor, including that Pablo Sandoval liner down the right field line. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up paying off…

  13. Scott G

    October 20, 2010 09:45 PM


    Can you please tell me where I can find the appropriate information to determine which situation was higher leverage: the 6th with men on 2nd and 3rd, or the 7th with a man on 2nd. I know you mentioned leverage index before.

  14. Dave

    October 21, 2010 08:44 AM

    That missed balk call seemed like an easy one. Admittedly, I have trouble grasping the nuances of that rule, but Madison (nice first name, by the way. How’s your brother, Dakota, doing?) was clearly going home with the pitch.

    Also, my biggest pet peeve with umpires (and all sports officials in general) is when they get caught up in the moment/excitement of the crowd. I get that Uribe made a nice play at short. I’ll concede that. It doesn’t excuse the fact that Gload was still safe though, sir.

    We need to send this series back to Philadelphia, if for no other reason than to give me something to do Saturday night.

    Go Phils.

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