Wednesday, October 1, 2008.
That’s the day Cole Hamels became a big-game pitcher. Sure, he had a blistering start Sept. 28, 2007 against the Nationals, but that could’ve been an aberration. Most of us needed additional proof. And boy, did the kid deliver.
“That’s vintage Cole,” said Jamie Moyer. “The way he threw, the way he acted, the way he carried himself on the mound — you just see him maturing before you and becoming more of a pitcher. He’s creating his own path.”
Vintage Cole? The kid is 24. That Moyer said it’s “vintage Cole” shows you how unreal he is.
The comparison between Hamels and Moyer is there, too. Hamels mixed up his pitches very well Wednesday. He located his fastball across the low part of the strike zone, countered that with his devastating changeup, then dropped in his curveball periodically. Best part was he rarely worked deep into counts — hitters had to swing at his stuff because he was in or near the strike zone all game. This was Hamels’ gameplan against Milwaukee:
“They’re a tremendous hitting team and they’re very aggressive, so I just tried to keep them off balance as much as I could and go as deep into the game as I possibly could.”
Keeping them off balance is exactly the way Moyer would pitch Milwaukee. Beating them is not about dialing up fastballs, but moving pitches around and changing speeds throughout. These guys look for belt-high fastballs; the point is to keep them thinking anything can be a belt-high fastball. Hamels did that, but because he’s Hamels — and not Moyer — he was dominant, not just effective. Because he can make batters miss, he brought the spotlight to him once again. I bet he keeps doing it.