Philadelphia Phillies‘ ace Cole Hamels won’t win the 2013 NL Cy Young, but if there was an award given out for the best second half pitcher, he would most certainly be a front-running finalist.
Hamels’ season got off to a bit of a rocky start. In his first two outings, the southpaw surrendered 13 earned runs in just 10.2 innings pitched. He walked five, struck out just seven and allowed four home runs. He followed those two starts up though with a stretch of the next six games where he pitched 41 innings and allowed just 11 runs.
Despite keeping his ERA down, however, Hamels struggled mightily with his control. In those same six starts, Hamels walked 17 and gave up three home runs.
Hamels managed to get through the first half of the season with decent statistical numbers. He had a first half ERA of 4.05, 118 strikeouts and opponents were hitting just .253 against him. Of course, Hamels did record 11 losses in his first 20 starts but to his defense, he probably wasn’t deserving of such a poor record.
All of those mediocre numbers aside, Hamels came out in the second half of the season as basically a new pitcher. It was during his second start of the second half specifically that this transformation really began to show.
And since that game on July 26, Hamels has gone at least seven innings in each of his nine starts. He has given up three runs just once and has given up one run or less three times. In those nine starts, Hamels has also walked just nine in 67 innings while striking out 51. His ERA is just a 2.39 in his post all-star break starts.
By contrast, Clayton Kershaw, the odds-on Cy Young favorite, has recorded 63.2 innings in his last nine starts. He has walked 12 batters and has struck out 62. His post all-star break ERA is an astounding 1.70.
Hamels’ numbers really aren’t that far off from Kershaw’s and in some cases are actually a little bit better.
Beyond the stats, a lot of Hamel’s success has come in the fact that he is just doing everything better. He is pitching better, he is commanding the ball better, he is throwing his fastball, he is locating better, his confidence is better. Everything Hamels has done has just been better. And it is certainly showing.
So before you say he was not worth that huge contract the Phillies gave him prior to this season, realize that since the second half, he has been pitching like vintage Hamels and in a good way. He is insanely talented, has incredible stuff and is the guy this rotation needs to lead them to success.
Hamels is a Cy Young caliber pitcher and someday in his career, he will have the trophy to prove it.
Marilee Gallagher is a baseball writer for RantSports.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MGallagher17 like her page on Facebook, or join her network on Google.