The postseason is the time of year when true fans endure ninth-inning heart palpitations and fair-weather fans pay closer attention and invest in playoff merchandise. More importantly, it’s when MLB teams’ reveal their true grit. It’s the season when the players either flourish or flounder.
A year ago today, Cole Hamels sealed his 2008 NLCS MVP campaign by winning the deciding game against the Dodgers. In that series, Hamels went 2-0 and posted a 1.93 ERA.
Times have changed. Postseason Hamels of 2009 is not a sparkling as postseason Hamels of 2008.
The Phillies pitcher made his last start on Oct. 8 in Game Two of the NLDS against the Colorado Rockies. In that appearance, he pitched five innings, giving up four runs on four hits—including a two-run home run to the Rockies Yorvit Torrealba. Hamels earned the loss in that game—the only game that the Phillies gave up to the Rockies as they won the series 3-1.
It is, however, never too late to change things around.
Hamels has the ability to dominate. It is hard to ignore that this is the man that was named NLCS and World Series MVP in 2008 as went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA (7 ER, 35.0 IP) in his five starts. He is the man who has the lowest postseason ERA (2.70) in Phillies history; the team needs that man to start tonight.
The offense has been performing well this postseason, batting a combined .296 in the NLDS, which was their highest team batting average in franchise history for a playoff round. The bats must remain hot in this series as they face the competitive offense that the Dodgers send to the plate.
Tonight’s matchup between Hamels and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw is a repeat of Hamels’ last start against Los Angeles. In that game, Hamels gave up only five hits as he pitched a complete game and his third career shutout—leading the Phillies to a 3-0 win.