5 Reasons Why Philadelphia Phillies’ Cole Hamels Will Bounce Back In 2014
5 Reasons Why Cole Hamels is Poised for a Great 2014
The oddsmakers in Las Vegas will set a line for almost everything, but if they came up with an offseason proposition bet that Cole Hamels would be either 13-5 or 5-13 this year for the Philadelphia Phillies, almost no one would have picked the latter. Yet 5-13 is where the left-handed pitcher finds himself now.
Still, there are a number of signs that Hamels has snapped out of his funky season and is poised for a big comeback year in 2014. Hamels’ last outing was a masterpiece, a 5-1 six-hitter over the Atlanta Braves.
You wouldn’t know it by his 5-13 record, but Hamels has been nothing short of dominant since the calendar turned from June to July. Over his last eight starts, the lefty has compiled a 1.98 ERA in 59 innings, the 10th-best ERA in that time span among all major league starters (fourth among NL). His overall ERA is 3.65, impressive considering it was 5.00 at the end of May. Hamels has been doing a lot of good pitching since then and the Phillies have to feel a little better about making a six-year, $144-million commitment to him a year ago in July.
To be sure, Hamels should not be sitting on a 5-13 record right now. A 3.65 ERA is evidence enough of that. Poor run support has also been a problem, as the Phillies rank No. 26 in runs scored in all of baseball. Hamels can also blame the bullpen for a lot of his problems, having left with leads only to see the bullpen turn the game around. Two weeks ago, he exited a game with a 1-0 lead after eight innings, only to see Jonathan Papelbon blow his sixth save of the season in a 2-1 loss.
If the Phillies add some significant free agent pieces to boost the offense, defense and bullpen, and Hamels can continue to pitch the way he has over his last eight starts, bet on 13-5 at this time next year vs. 5-13.
Here are five reasons to expect a bounce-back year from Hamels in 2014:
5. New Manager
All indications are that Ryne Sandberg is the manager-in-waiting for the Phillies, and he's not as likely to run out .186 career hitters like Michael Martinez like Charlie Manuel is doing. Better starting lineups will be a byproduct of hiring a new manager, as the Phils are expected to do.
4. New Pitching Coach
If Sandberg is hired as expected, the scuttlebutt is that he will be able to talk former Cubs' teammate Jamie Moyer into replacing Rich Dubee as pitching coach. Dubee is not respected by the Phillies' pitchers, while Moyer, a former Phil who is from suburban Philadelphia, is respected. Hamels could benefit from having another successful lefty starter around.
3. Improved Bullpen
The Phillies signed Mike Adams to solidify the back end of their bullpen, but he has been injured most of the season. He is expected to be back, and the Phillies are expected to tweak the late-inning corps with some veteran help. Hamels needed that this year.
2. Better Run Support
The Phillies are expected to jettison current catcher Carlos Ruiz, leaving them with a gaping need for an experienced catcher who is also a good hitter. Expect them to open their big bank account to make an effort to sign free agent Brian McCann of the Braves, who would immediately provide some much-needed punch to the lineup and some run support for Hamels.
1. Better Defense
Young players like Cody Asche and Darin Ruf have improved the infield defense with their presence, and the defense figures to only get better next year when Michael Young is gone, which will likely be the case.