2015 Best/Worst Case: Cole Hamels


With the season fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about what kind of team the Phillies may have in 2015. This look at Cole Hamels is the tenth in the series of articles speculating on a best and worst case scenario for each player that is likely to be on the 2015 Philadelphia Phillies squad.

Today’s Player: P #35 Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels has been the subject of many trade rumors this off-season, most recently with the Boston Red Sox. There is at least a fair chance that Hamels won’t be with the team at some point in 2015, perhaps even at the start of the season, but this article is looking at Hamels as if he will be with the squad.

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In 2014, Hamels had his typical year: sub-3.00 ERA, around 200 strikeouts, over 200 IP, and even matched his career high WAR (Wins Above Replacement) with a 6.6 mark. There is no arguing that Cole still has it. He even came in sixth place in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

Hamels will be 31 this year, but he has not shown any signs of regression. In fact, in some ways 2014 was better than his past years. He allowed only 14 home runs, yielded just 176 hits, and his ERA was the lowest of his career.

These are all reasons why he would still be valuable to the Phillies, but also reasons why he is one of the few pieces the Phillies simply have to trade if they want to acquire serious young talent with which to build the next contending team.

Let’s take a look at his 2015 best and worst case scenarios.

Best Case Scenario: 14-10/ 2.40 ERA/ 215 IP/ 210 K and with the Phillies all season

I don’t think people are looking at 2015 and saying Hamels is going to regress. Everyone has certain expectations of Hamels, and he is likely to meet those. He will have around a 3.00 ERA, he will log at least 200 innings, he should have double-digit wins, and he will have around 200 strike outs.

These numbers are what it would take for Hamels to meet or exceed expectations. It’s tough to imagine Hamels having lower than a 2.50 ERA again, but let’s say he does. Let’s say he stays around 15 home runs given up, and even bumps up his K total by at least .5 per nine innings. Let’s say he is able to get back up to 215 or 220 innings pitched and even log a few complete games.

What would this mean? Well as our own TBOH Edior Matt Veasey pointed out just yesterday in his absolute best case scenario article, it depends on whether the Phillies are contending. If they are somehow in the race, then the club may decide to keep Hamels. In such a best-case scenario, they may have no choice but to keep him. 

“You got to make sure you get the right kid here when you trade him. There can’t be any, ‘Well maybe this guy can develop.’” ~ Bowa, to CBS Philly

Also, if Phillies management decides they simply want to try to keep Hamels and make him a career Phillie, then Hamels may stay. If Cole sees that the Phillies are doing enough to attempt to contend in the next few years without trading him then he may want to stick around.

But if Hamels begins to log these kinds of numbers, and the team performs as expected, then I think he’s going to be traded. In an interview yesterday with CBS Philly, bench coach Larry Bowa said that “you can’t miss on this“, referring to a Hamels trade. If Hamels is still here, and is pitching this well by the deadline, then the Phillies are sure to get a huge package in return for him.

Worst Case Scenario: 4-7/ 4.00 ERA/ 150 IP/ 160 Ks/ and a stint on the disabled list

This is so speculative on the negative side that it hurts to even consider. Whenever I see someone predict that a player will have a stint on the DL, it bugs me. In this case, however, it is necessary.

No longer the ‘Kid Cole’ who won the 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP Awards, Hamels is now 31 years old.

Hamels is not old by any stretch, but he did just turn 31 years of age in December. It is not unreasonable to at least think it possible that Hamels could end up with a DL stint. He has been a force that goes deep into games his entire career, and it isn’t ridiculous to think all that work could catch up with him. I would not be surprised to see Hamels end up on the DL at some point – but when, and for how long?

If this happens, a domino effect could occur. Teams won’t want to trade for him because of the injury. They may put that together with his age, and factor those negatively into trade considerations.

Maybe then Hamels stays with the Phils, but is unable to bounce back to his prior value because of lack of run support and a lack of a solid defense behind him. He loses confidence, and has a 2009-esque year, with around a 4.00 ERA. His innings pitched and strike outs would obviously decrease with a stint on the DL as well.

Other effects of aging have already been seen. Hamels gave up more walks than typical in 2014, and had a half-dozen wild pitches, the highest mark of his career. This may show that he is starting to lose his command. Hamels also was held on a tighter leash in 2015, only going above 100  pitches in 13 starts.

Again, that is the worst-case scenario. I don’t believe that Hamels will regress or get injured. His being held to fewer than 100 pitches was mainly because the Phillies had a good bullpen, and they wanted to make sure Hamels didn’t get injured.

Cole Hamels hasn’t lost his control, and his velocity has stayed even with, and at times exceeded, his career average. “Hollywood” is going to have another great year. Whether or not that great year is with the Phillies, only time will tell.