There's a new ace in town. And his name is not Cole Hamels.
Last year's World Series Most Valuable Player has yet to find a groove in the 2009. And there is a combination of answers for his struggles. Could be control, velocity, location, confidence, or just a matter of teams scouting Hamels' tendencies in certain counts.
He's been inconsistent. Riddled with bad luck at times. But for a left-handed pitcher of his caliber, he should be able to work through these struggles and return to a top flighted pitcher.
For his problems to go on for this long, there must be something inside Hamels that has led him to this elongated stretch.
Hamels just doesn't have that fire out there on the mound. As a calm, cool, and collected guy out of San Diego, CA. "Hollywood Hamels" needs to dig deep moving into September.
As World Series Champions, teams get up to play the Phillies. Teams will look for other ways to beat the champions because of their superiority. Maybe study an opponent more or have a more focused mindset throughout the game.
The problem is Hamels knows this.
For an entire offseason, the Phillies have made it lucid to maintain intensity for every team high or low in the standings. They're all coming after the big dogs of the National League.
Hamels has found himself in turmoil between himself. After literally cruising through September and October baseball last year, simply the game of baseball is catching up with him. Merely the fact that you cannot be perfect all the time.
Hamels was 9-8 with a 3.32 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 2008 though Aug. 15. This year he is 7-7 with an ERA 1.37 points higher.
If Hamels can get back to his winning ways, a one-two punch of Lee and Hamels will be tough to beat.
Repeat success is not impossible, but inevitable.