In January of 2009, the Phillies avoided arbitration with Cole Hamels by signing him to a three-year, $20.5 million deal. For a pitcher who won the 2008 World Series MVP, the move was a cheap steal for the Phillies. After going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in the playoffs, the young left-hander had high expectations for 2009.
Cole didn’t respond the way everybody would’ve liked.
On the first day of spring training, Charlie Manuel penciled Hamels in as the Opening Day starter. However, Hamels suffered from elbow pain and wouldn’t make his first start until April 10. It wasn’t pretty; Hamels allowed seven earned runs in 3.2 innings. It was just the beginning of a long season for Hamels.
Glancing at his stats, Hamels had an average year for a major league pitcher. What made Hamels’ season disappointing was the fact that everybody knew that he was capable of being a big game pitcher. Hamels’ frustration in himself was noticeable, especially in the National League Championship Series when he tossed his arms in the air after a teammate’s error.
It was very easy to point out Hamels’ problem: location. When Hamels missed his spots, he paid heavily. But at least he made batters work their way on. Hamels gave up 9.6 hits per nine innings. Hamels only walked two batters per nine innings, a career best. 51.4% of his pitches were in the strike zone, which ranked fifth best in the National League. He also had the fifth best walk/strikeout ratio (3.91) in the National League.
Hamels was unable to get into a groove during the posteason. He went 1-2 with a 7.58 ERA, and allowed seven home runs.
In early 2009, Hamels admitted to Phillies Nation that he does not have a good curveball. It showed in 2009, but if it can be improved, he’ll be that much better of a pitcher. The 26-year old is still capable of being an ace. With less offseason distractions, Hamels can prepare himself for the 2010 season, and can hopefully return to his old, dominant form.
2009 stats: 32 G, 10-11, 193.2 IP, 4.32 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 168 SO, .273 BAA
Grade: 5.5/10 — Hamels had a disappointing year, but his subpar season was about average for a major league pitcher.