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Monday, April 09, 2018

Cole Hamels’ dip in velocity leaves him vulnerable | Dallas Morning News

First, about the velocity drop: It is significant. Hamels, 34, is averaging 89.8 mph with his four-seam fastball, the one that is supposed to “explode” through the strike zone on what appears to be an upward plane. That is down from 92.3 mph in his first three starts a year ago.

On Sunday, he threw a four-seamer on the game’s first pitch. It didn’t explode, well, at least not until after leadoff hitter Steve Pearce sent it deep into the left-field stands. It was the second time in three starts this season Hamels has allowed a homer to the game’s leadoff hitter.

Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 09, 2018 at 04:32 PM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cole hamels, rangers

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   1. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: April 09, 2018 at 05:17 PM (#5650427)
Cole Hamels is 34. That just hit me. I still think of him as a kid.

EDIT: He's sixth in career WAR among active pitchers, too. Over 50.
   2. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: April 09, 2018 at 05:32 PM (#5650431)
Say what you will about Ruben Amaro giving free agent contracts to veterans, he also did a great job of trading the veterans at the end. Except the one guy who was so bad that he was untradeable.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: April 09, 2018 at 07:10 PM (#5650467)
Is that a reference to Hamels? Hamels has given Tex 9 bWAR in 2.5 seasons, bloody good return. This year plus an option for next year (possibly vesting, high buyout ... another Amaro specialty). The Rangers also got Jake Diekman in that deal who has added another 2 WAR as a reliever. Amaro got a decent return but, as is generally the case, the actual payout is still very much up in the air. Alfaro has actually hit well in the majors so far after unimpressive stints at AA and especially AAA. Jerad Eickhoff has been quite good (6 WAR in 376 IP) but missed a good chunk of last year and a good chunk of this year (3 separate injuries it seems). Nick Williams made a splash last year but is struggling to find PT this year.

Obviously the WAR traded away wouldn't have made any real difference over the last 2.5 seasons -- although that also means the 6 WAR contributed by Eickhoff hasn't made any real difference. It's now coming down to whether Eickhoff can find health and Alfaro keeps hitting.

So they'd have been better off for 2015-17 holding onto Hamels and Diekman. It's quite possible they'd have been better or at least as well off for 2018 as well and, depending on what Hamels has left, possibly 2019. This trade may not start paying off for the Phils until 2020 which mainly will rely on Alfaro's success and Eickhoff's health. Even then, that's a long time to wait for a trade to pay off.

Wow, JP Crawford starting out 1 for 23 -- ouch! Meanwhile Rhys Hoskins is hitting 440/559/760 ... and that's with just 1 HR in 34 PA.

EDIT: As to Hamels, he may be entering that stage of his career where he's got to find a way to be a successful lefty junkballer. Many have succeeded, many have not and that first transition year is often painful.
   4. BDC Posted: April 09, 2018 at 07:14 PM (#5650470)
Good analysis, Walt. I’ll just add that the Rangers also dumped Matt Harrison’s contract on Philadelphia, making Hamels’ salary a bargain.
   5. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: April 09, 2018 at 07:35 PM (#5650491)
As to Hamels, he may be entering that stage of his career where he's got to find a way to be a successful lefty junkballer.


Is there a harbinger for this happening? For instance would Kershaw eventually become a great junkballer because he's got that glorious curveball already and he can just all McCullers and throw it like 50% of the time as he gets older and still be successful?

Has anyone done research on the evolution of long term successful pitchers and how their pitch selection changes from 20's to early 30's to mid 30's?
   6. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: April 09, 2018 at 11:18 PM (#5650608)
Is that a reference to Hamels? Hamels has given Tex 9 bWAR in 2.5 seasons, bloody good return.

I meant the one guy they didn't trade, Ryan Howard.
   7. Leroy Kincaid Posted: April 10, 2018 at 06:21 AM (#5650638)
Cole Hamels’ dip in velocity leaves him vulnerable


Unpossible. Everyone knows velocity is meaningless in pitching because that's what announcers say.
   8. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: April 10, 2018 at 09:19 AM (#5650669)
On the trade, the Phillies also got Jake Thompson, who was supposed to have the most upside of the pitchers. Really struggled in the minors so far, but pitched 3 good innings in the 20-1 blowout. And Alex Asher, who appears to be (ahem) struggling since his bust for PED.

The Hamels trade still looks pretty good, given the ridiculous suggestions people were putting out at the time. Williams/Eichoff/Alfaro and maybe Thompson could be part of a good Phillies team while it didn't seem possible for Hamels to do that.
   9. Nasty Nate Posted: April 10, 2018 at 09:23 AM (#5650672)
On the trade, the Phillies also got Jake Thompson, who was supposed to have the most upside of the pitchers. Really struggled in the minors so far, but pitched 3 good innings in the 20-1 blowout.
He got the save! He's a proven closer now.
   10. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: April 10, 2018 at 09:23 AM (#5650673)
Oh, and Williams should definitely rate more than zero WAR for last year's line. He was 1.2 OWAR, and was severely dinged on defense for 111 brutal innings in CF. If I'm reading BR correctly, half his negative runs came in just 1/6 of his playing time in CF.

Edit: Good call Nate
   11. Spahn Insane Posted: April 10, 2018 at 10:31 AM (#5650714)
Is there a harbinger for this happening? For instance would Kershaw eventually become a great junkballer because he's got that glorious curveball already and he can just all McCullers and throw it like 50% of the time as he gets older and still be successful?

He was no Kershaw, but Frank Tanana fits the template.
   12. BDC Posted: April 10, 2018 at 12:29 PM (#5650801)
Diekman was terrible last night, so there's that.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: April 10, 2018 at 07:13 PM (#5651140)
#5: no idea. I can't say as I tend to associate glorious curves with lefty junkballers though. Tanana does indeed fit but then Zito was generally terrible in decline. I never thought of Jamie Moyer as a curveball pitcher particularly. Kenny Rogers? But I really don't have a good memory of who threw what.
   14. BDC Posted: April 10, 2018 at 08:15 PM (#5651170)
Best curveball I ever saw was Aaron Sele's. But Sele was right-handed, and after age 31, his career ERA was 5.19 in 111 starts.
   15. The Ghost of Logan Schafer Posted: April 10, 2018 at 08:16 PM (#5651171)
I always loved Hamels. I knew he had no chance at the HOF, but I was hoping he would continue dominating into his late 30's.
It's looking like Verlander and Scherzer are the best bets from the pool of "older-than-Kershaw" hopefuls.
The two Brewers rentals, Sabathia and Greinke, probably fall a bit short and it looks like King Felix is paying the price
for those heavy early-career workloads.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: April 11, 2018 at 05:01 PM (#5651690)
While I should never count on the BBWAA acting sensibly, I think it's obvious even to them that the old starter standards just don't apply any more. They did manage to hold onto them long enough for Maddux, Clemens, etc. to come along so I suppose it's possible they'll hold onto them and only a couple will get through. But I suspect we'll see that SPs who reach, give or take, 2000 excellent innings and some filler will get in, especially if they have awards. I think Halladay will set the precedent. Verlander then gets in, Scherzer has 3 CYAs and has the sort of performance that will probably be considered a lock 20 years from now (assuming we still have SPs in 20 years). CC then will probably eke over after several years on the ballot.

Obviously could be wrong. The BBWAA is exactly the sort of group that would eventually elect Vizquel while leaving CC on the outside. Or they may be content electing nothing but relievers.
   17. PreservedFish Posted: April 11, 2018 at 05:22 PM (#5651707)
I can't say as I tend to associate glorious curves with lefty junkballers though.


Strongly agree. The junkballer and the glorious curveball guy are different archetypes, almost opposites in a way although they both specialize in off-speed stuff. The killer curveball guy (Zito's a good one, Shawn Estes is another) has only one good pitch and usually can't throw it for strikes with any consistency. These guys can be maddening to watch because if the hitters lay off the curve, they're hopeless. The junkballer, by contrast, has no killer pitch, but survives with deception and by being unpredictable. Junkballers get better with age because they get craftier and they add to their repertoire. The glorious curveball guy seems at the mercy of forces he cannot even understand, much less control.

The very old El Duque, on the Mets, was probably my favorite junkballer, a true artist of the type.
   18. Cowboy Popup Posted: April 11, 2018 at 09:18 PM (#5651898)
The very old El Duque, on the Mets, was probably my favorite junkballer, a true artist of the type.

Moose's last year was pure junk ball and my favorite pitching season of all time. I think his fastball was topping out at like 87 and his knuckle curve, while still good, was no longer devastating.

For a while Livan was the king of junkballers IMO.
   19. QLE Posted: April 12, 2018 at 02:21 AM (#5652055)
Or they may be content electing nothing but relievers.


Questionable- looking at the history of the BBWAA voting, there seems to be evidence that there is a substantial contingent which feels compelled to vote for at least one starting pitcher, and that, as a result, it would be a major surprise if they vote for no one over an elongated period of time. They might not make the right choices (this logic seems to have been that which elected Hunter and caused Morris' rise), but they will almost certainly pick someone.

As a result of this variability, however, I cannot predict who those someones might be- Kershaw and (after this last season) Verlander seem to have a leg up on the others, but it will ultimately depend on the careers these players have been now and retirement.

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