Cole Hamels’ Struggles Due to More Than Just Poor Run Support

As Matt Gelb astutely noted in his latest column following another Cole Hamels loss, this time at the hands of the offensively-impotent Washington Nationals, the Phillies have scored 20 runs in the 69 innings Hamels has pitched over a span of 11 starts. His run support ranks 99th out of 104 qualified starters according to ESPN. Now with a 1-8 record, the Phillies have lost each of Hamels’ last five starts, even though four of them were decent (yesterday’s start included).

It is quite easy, especially now that Hamels has improved his defense-independent stats lately, to look at the lack of run support and simply label his 2013 season a fluke, unlucky — as we correctly did in 2009. And it would at least be partially accurate, as it is quite true that his defense-independent stats don’t justify a 4.43 ERA and even a 4.43 ERA pitcher would win more than one of his first 11 starts.

To point to bad luck, though, ignores that Hamels is noticeably worse in 2013 than he has been in years past. A few weeks ago, I analyzed Hamels’ struggles through his first seven starts. I concluded that he was having trouble throwing his change-up in the strike zone, while he was leaving his cutter over the plate too often. Through those seven starts, Hamels struck out 40, walked 17, and allowed seven home runs in 45.2 innings. In the four starts since, he has improved in both regards, which has led to 23 strikeouts, eight walks, and only two home runs allowed in 23.1 innings.

Let’s not sugarcoat the issue, though: through the first one-third of his season, this has easily been Hamels’ worst performance of his eight-year career. Thankfully, there is plenty of time for the lefty to get back on track and signs are pointing to exactly that happening already. The last thing the Phillies need is their star lefty, who signed a six-year, $144 million contract extension last July, hitting the skids before he has celebrated his 30th birthday.

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65 comments

  1. Larry

    May 28, 2013 04:41 PM

    “Seriously, on a team with problems everywhere, the most passionate topic we want to talk about is Cole Hamels’ semi-struggle?”

    Phillie697, are you brain dead????

    Here are more alarming Cole Hamels Stats.
    Most given up doubles in the NL. Of all the pitchers in baseball, no pitcher has given up more doubles than Cole Hamels, tied with Joe Blanton who is in the AL.

    Cole is 6th in the NL in giving up walks.
    I can go on and on with more crappy Cole Stats, but I don’t have to, everyone sees what’s going on with the 144 million dollar bust.

    So Phillie697 think before you type silly girl.

  2. LTG

    May 28, 2013 04:43 PM

    I take it Richard is offering an alternative explanation that reveals the evidence for either claim is pretty minimal and so neither should be asserted with confidence. Richard doesn’t need his evidence to be better for this point to be made.

    Also, Cole himself might have decided to take a risk and not sign a long-term contract after a down year, irregardless of whatever his agent was telling him. Unless we get some more reliable evidence, I don’t see why I should not just withhold judgment about how the lack of an extension went down.

    (That ‘irregardless’ is just for you, 697.:P)

  3. Larry

    May 28, 2013 09:53 PM

    What a game by Cliff lee tonight in a hitter friendly stadium going against the 4th best scoring team in baseball. He’s the real ace of this team. His ERA is 2.34 and 0.97 whip. He’s the MVP of the team and Paps is the runner up. Good stuff Phillies!

  4. Gaël

    May 29, 2013 04:48 AM

    “He’s the MVP of the team and Paps is the runner up.”

    You mean the guy who’s appeared in 19 games and pitched 19 2/3 innings is the second most valuable player on the Phillies? Man, I know they were bad, but that bad?

  5. hk

    May 29, 2013 05:38 AM

    Gael,

    This roster might just be that bad. I would have Utley as runner up, but after that, it’s Kendrick, Pettibone, Papelbon and Dom (and Dom only makes it into the conversation if you use Baseball-Reference’s defensive metrics instead of Fangraph’s).

  6. Phillie697

    May 29, 2013 08:48 AM

    @Larry,

    Yes, because looking at someone’s stats on May 29 for the entire “season” should most definitely trump the numbers he’s accumulated his entire career. Only little girls get worked up over 11 starts of someone who’s had 222 starts in his career with a career ERA more than a full run less than his ERA this season.

  7. Phillie697

    May 29, 2013 08:51 AM

    @LTG,

    I think law school is getting inside your brain, as it inevitably does to all :)

  8. LTG

    May 29, 2013 09:01 AM

    I’m not in law school. I’m much better at creating valid and seemingly sound arguments than a lawyer.

    I am, however, writing a dissertation on hermeneutics in general and legal hermeneutics in particular.

    Also, “think before you type silly girl.” FFS, smh.

  9. Phillie697

    May 29, 2013 09:09 AM

    I thought for sure you said something about reading cases. That’s probably for your dissertation I guess.

  10. LTG

    May 29, 2013 09:39 AM

    Yup. I pour over cases for exemplars of legal interpretation. I also sat in on a Philosophy of Property course that required reading a number of important cases.

    As I’ve mentioned before, my fiancee is a law student. In fact, she is currently a summer associate in DC.

  11. Phillie697

    May 29, 2013 10:10 AM

    This is a big town with way too many law firms, but there is a non-zero chance she may be summering at my firm, LOL.

  12. Phillie697

    May 29, 2013 10:12 AM

    Oh, btw, there’s philosophy behind property? I’m pretty sure the Rules Against Perpetuity was invented to torture people.

  13. LTG

    May 29, 2013 10:32 AM

    Some of the philosophical questions are far away from the current legal issues that occupy lawyers. For instance, you might wonder whether we are under a moral obligation to have a legal system that allows for private property not just collective or communal property.

    Others not as much. For instance, when are takings justified? Or, what would a just copyright and patent scheme look like? Ought we have legal property in our bodies? What to do about nuisance in hard cases?

    She is summering at your firm if and only if your firm is Wiley Rein.

  14. Phillie697

    May 29, 2013 10:37 AM

    @LTG,

    I was kidding about the philosophy part… You of all people should have picked up on that :)

    Oh good. Now I don’t have to torture all the female summers on the off chance they’re engaged to you :P

  15. LTG

    May 29, 2013 10:52 AM

    Well, I’m glad that crisis was averted.

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