After last night’s lights-out start, ace left-hander Cole Hamels pushes past 200 innings for the first time in his career, with speculation that he will be moved up to Sunday’s start against the Mets.
Here’s a long-overdue salute to Cole Hamels, top five National League pitcher for my money, league leader in innings pitched (203.0, but behind C.C. Sabathia and Roy Halladay in total) and batting average against (.218). He’s the owner of a lights-out 174/46 K/BB ratio. In other words, behind Tim Lincecum, Sabathia and Johan Santana, nobody else provides the steady dominance Cole Hamels delivers.
Cole earns my vote in two categories: Most Valuable and Most Underrated Phillie. With up-and-down seasons from Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and now Pat Burrell, Hamels outshines them all as the player they’ve been able to count on most. Nobody envokes the same level of trust. Nobody is achieving the same level of excellence. He’s excelled in every area but wins, which is entirely on the offense. Yet again, the bats managed a pedestrian four runs in last night’s 4-0 victory, allowing a weak Nationals team to hang in when they should have been put away. Not to diminish the job Brad Lidge has done, but you hear more about the possibility of a Brad Lidge Cy Young than Hamels, who’s logged roughly four times the innings as Lidge with similar results to scale. Cole is on pace to surpass 220 innings easily.
Another reason why Hamels has been overshadowed is that he hasn’t matched up in any marquee games against the Mets. The last time he faced them was April 18, which is a travesty. The Phillies have yet to name a starter for Sunday night's game at Shea. Their choices include Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ or Hamels. Get serious. Even with his innings into the 200s, it’s an easy choice. They have to showcase their best pitcher in the final three games against the team they’re trailing.