Cole Hamels is 2-11, which will not earn him a place on the All-Star team. Cole Hamels is 2-11. Those words don’t all belong in the same sentence. Hamels has gone from being one of the best pitchers in the game to a pitcher with one of the worst records in the game. This is one of those circumstances that prove that old cliché that there is nothing certain except death and taxes. A 2-11 record, go figure.
Hamels must be consulting with witch doctors, fortune tellers, horoscopes and other offbeat remedies by now to sort out what has been going wrong for him during the 2013 season.
Yes, he does have an uncharacteristically high 4.50 earned run average, but his Philadelphia Phillies have been lax in providing run support, too. Hhe should probably be no worse than .500.
Hamels is a 6-foot-4, 195-pound southpaw. Being an above-average left-hander has made him a valuable enough commodity that he is earning $15 million this season. His track record indicates that salary is only a little bit out of line. Hamels is a three-time National League All-Star and in his seven big-league seasons predating this year he has won at least 14 games four times. Last year Hamels went 17-6 with a 3.05 ERA.
And it’s not as if he should be over the hill, either. Hamels is just 29. His lifetime record entering the 2013 campaign was 91-60 with a 3.42 earned run average. Hamels did get hit hard in his first couple of starts of the year, but then he got straightened out and pitched sharper. His teammates failed to score runs for him whenever his turn in the rotation came around and slowly but surely those L’s piled up.
At the moment, Hamels is the losingest pitcher in baseball. He is on a pace that would result in more than 20 losses, something rather remarkable for a guy whose bosses figured he would be a better bet to win 20 this year. It’s like Hamels got caught in an avalanche and can’t stop the slide.
One reason that Hamels is in this predicament is the Phillies’ overall sluggishness. Only a year or two ago Philadelphia shaped up as the best team in the sport, a favorite to win the World Series for a second time in the last handful of years. But things started falling apart on South Broad Street. Injury began injury, slump begat slump. Some of the old reliables were dispatched to distant locales.
At times this season the Phils have turned in some nice stretches. They began the year poorly, over-took the .500 mark, fell back again, and now may be digging deep to make a run in the National League East Division. It helps that the Washington Nationals have fallen far short of expectations and that the Atlanta Braves are coming back to the pack, some of their hitters stricken with some peculiar disease that has rotted their bats.
That at least has left the door open for the Phillies to make a charge. Plenty of time to do so if they have it in them. Ryan Howard, who hasn’t been the same since he ripped an Achilles tendon on the final play of the team’s 2011 season, has started to hit like his old self. It’s too soon to suggest that he can put the team on his shoulders and carry the Phillies into the playoffs because other ingredients are needed.
It a true Phillies rush to the playoffs remains an unlikely scenario with Roy Halladay unable to take his turn on the mound and an even less likely scenario with Halladay out and Hamels saddled with the worst pitching record in the sport.