TBOH Debate – Cole Hamels and the inconsistent Philadelphia Phillies offense
By Mike Lacy
Cole Hamels. Image Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
Every week, the writers of That Ball’s Outta Here debate the key issues facing the Philadelphia Phillies. Joining me this week are Spencer Bingol, Alex Cheremeteff, Emily Gruver, and Michael Lecke. We will discuss Cole Hamels‘ legacy and what we should reasonably expect from the Phillies offense.
Now that he has 100 wins under his belt, how do you think Cole Hamels will eventually be regarded in terms of all-time great Phillies pitchers?
Cole Hamels is already one of the best pitchers this organization has ever produced. Particularly when you consider him being drafted, developed, and winning a World Series MVP award with only one organization, his popularity should already be considerable.
His actual numbers back it up as well. Outside of missing this April with soreness, he’s been a workhorse, pitching at least 180.0 innings in each of his full seasons (and in his rookie season, if you count his Minor League workload). Ignoring pitcher wins (it makes my head angry), he’s also a career 3.40 ERA, 1.148 WHIP, 2.2 BB9, 8.5 K9 pitcher, in addition to that durability.
As a reference point, Cole Hamels has pitched 1627.1 innings to date; from his debut in 1988 through the 1999 season, Curt Schilling pitched 1691.2 innings, a similar mark. During that time, Schilling earned a 3.38 ERA, 1.145 WHIP, 2.4 BB9, and 8.4 K9. His 123 ERA+ was also almost dead equal to Hamels’ career 122 ERA+.
However, the conclusion shouldn’t be drawn that Cole Hamels is as good a pitcher as Schilling – at least not yet. A very key piece to Schilling’s legacy is his long, sustained success. Hamels has succeeded for 1600+ IP. Schilling did it for 3261 innings.
Were Hamels to continue to showcase the durability he’s already established for a few more seasons at a career average pace, he’d definitely be considered on-par with the likes of a Schilling in the annuls of Philadelphia lore (he’s already matched his number of years with the team). I see that happening.
Aug 3, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton (32) and Curt Schilling (38) greet each other during Phillies Alumni Weekend ceremony before game against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Now that Cole Hamels has attained his 100th career victory, Phillies fans everywhere can only hope that he stays healthy enough and consistent enough to reach 200. Hamels became the eighth pitcher in franchise history to win 100 games. Only three lefties are ahead of him – Curt Simmons, Chris Short and “Lefty” himself, Steve Carlton.
Statistically, Hamels can already be regarded as one of the Phillies’ greats. In regards to franchise history, he is already in the Top 10 in wins, innings pitched, ERA+, WAR, WHIP, K/BB ratio, K/9 and strikeouts. By the end of 2014, he should move into third place on the all-time strikeout list.
It will be a pleasure to watch him continue his climb up the list.
For Cole Hamels to achieve that incredible accomplishment at age 30 at this stage of his career with still a few more good seasons left is huge. The left-hander will be joining some outstanding 100 + win company and this truly boosts his reputation.
Hamels will end his Phillies career as one of the top five pitchers in team history and the second best left-handed starter. I just hope that he hasn’t pitched in his last postseason game for the team.
Who can forget that cold, rainy night in October of 2008?
If fans feel their admiration for Cole Hamels waning then maybe now is a good time to re-watch that game. The intensity and focus in Hamels’ eyes was unforgettable. He would not be distracted or denied.
The World Series parade would not have been in Philly in 2008 if not for Cole, so he is already one of the all-time greats. How he ranks among them will be decided many years from now.Ben Revere
. Image Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Which do you think is more emblematic of the Phillies offense? The zero combined runs scored on Wednesday and Friday? Or the 20 combined runs on Saturday and Sunday?
I feel like a jerk for knowingly responding against the spirit of the question with a cop-out, but it CAN be either. Looking at this offense has made me question Ryne Sandberg a bit.
As the team has aged, platoon splits have become an exaggerated phenomenon with this team. Obviously, when a team strings together some combination of hits/walks, they start scoring. The problem with the Phillies is that each starter (save for Jimmy Rollins) hits either LHP or RHP significantly better than the other.
However, regardless of the handedness of the opposing starting pitcher, a very similar, handedness staggered lineup is presented daily, because it’s the traditional way to put out a lineup. This means that it’s difficult to get enough batters in a row who are good enough against the same pitcher to score runs.
It may be unfair to ask Ryne Sandberg to buck a century of thought on lineup construction in his first year, but there is a lot of untapped success available in this offense.
For instance, there’s an odd phenomenon where Ben Revere has reverse platoon splits (he’s a lefty who has always hit LHP well). He currently has a .837 OPS against LHP, but only a .466 OPS against RHP. He should not be leading off against both kinds of starters.
Marlon Byrd has been killing it this year against LHP as well, with a 1.115 OPS against them. However, he’s only hitting about league average against RHP (.728 OPS). Maybe drop him down the lineup against righty starters.
If Sandberg employed more of an evolving lineup, abandoning the regular Revere-Rollins-Utley-Howard-Byrd-Brown-Asche-Pitcher pattern, I think we’d might see a lot of early inning runs bunched together more regularly (although struggling later when relievers are involved), instead of only the occasional outbursts.
Possible lineups would be:
Against LHP: Revere – Ruiz – Rollins – Byrd – Utley – Mayberry – Brown – Asche – Pitcher
Against RHP: Rollins – Ruiz – Utley – Howard – Brown – Byrd – Asche – Pitcher – Revere (a quasi-2nd lead-off man)
May 7, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Cody Asche watches the ball as he lines out to second in the fifth inning of the Phillies 10-0 loss to Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Look up Jekyll and Hyde and you’re looking up the Phillies’ offense. One week they’ll look like the ’62 Mets, the next, they’ll resemble the ’27 Yankees.
They are much closer to the offense that has scored 26 runs the last three games than the one that couldn’t score a single run for what seemed like an entire week. The offense has been impressive since Jimmy Rollins was inserted back into the leadoff spot. A healthy and motivated Rollins is a catalyst at the top.
The key to sustaining the recent run of success will be the health of the older, core players. Cody Asche has started to contribute, as well. Until recently, the team was getting zero production from left field, center field, third base and the bench. Hopefully, Domonic Brown can turn his season around and provide some pop down in the lineup.
As long as the ‘Ben Revere leading off’ experiment has been tabled, the Phillies offense should do just fine.
The 20 combined runs on Saturday and Sunday were definitely more emblematic of the Phillies offense. It’s no surprise they scored zero runs on Wednesday and Friday; we’re used to that. To see the young guys have breakout games, and to see Marlon Byrd and Wil Nieves finally get going was great to see. Hopefully this type of outburst leads to more consistency with the bats.
This wasn’t the first extended slump that the Phillies experienced in 2014, and it probably won’t be the last. They don’t have many consistent on base guys or power hitters, and are largely dependent on base hits to score runs. Unfortunately, sometimes the balls don’t find holes. So while they’re not as bad as they looked last week, that’s probably closer to the reality than the output we’ve seen since.
The Phillies offense is consistently inconsistent this year so far. Scoring in bunches isn’t likely to be how we remember this team.
But they don’t have to be a top offense to win, they just need one more run than the other guys. They will either find their groove as a group and manage to avoid the long scoring droughts or they will watch the playoffs from home.
What do you think? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below.
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