The Philadelphia Phillies finally returned to the field last night to defeat the Cincinnati Reds, 3-2. The victory was especially sweet because starting pitcher Cole Hamels returned from the DL.
Although he received a no-decision, he went six innings, allowing two hits and one run and striking out seven.
This outing only served to strengthen his bid for the Cy Young Award. He still probably remains somewhat behind teammate Roy Halladay and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. Nevertheless, he has been having an amazing season so far, and with a very strong September, he could contend for the award.
Hamels is 13-7 this season. His ERA and WHIP have both dropped as a result of his start last night to 2.58 and 0.97, respectively. Opponents are only batting .211 against him. He is also averaging 8.19 strikeouts per nine innings.
In terms of sabermetrics, his 5.3 wins-above-replacement rating is indeed third among National League pitchers behind Halladay (6.9) and Kershaw (5.8), according to FanGraphs.
As the only homegrown ace the Phillies have in the rotation right now (although Vance Worley is making a case to join the aces), he has shown that the Phillies can develop pitchers as well as trade for them.
He has also shown that September is traditionally his best month over the past three seasons, were his ERA is 0.7 runs below his season statistic at that time.
With a strong September, perhaps he can make some noise and gain ground on Halladay and Kershaw in the Cy Young race. However, he does have quite a bit of ground to make up.