Conventional wisdom going into the World Series said that Cole Hamels and Scott Kazmir were, eh, more or less a wash, but that the rest of the Tampa rotation—Shields, Garza, Sonnanstine—would be the difference in the Series. Hamels has given the lie to that theory by not just outpitching Kazmir, but demoralizing the whole state of Florida in the process.
Go back to Game 1 in Tampa. On the surface, their lines aren’t terribly uneven: 7 IP, 2 ER, 5 K, 2 BB and the win for Hamels; 6 IP, 3 ER, 4 K, 4 BB and the loss for Kazmir. Then, though, take into account that Hamels faced fewer batters and threw fewer pitches in his seven innings than Kazmir in six. Consider that Hamels allowed 8 balls hit in the air, compared to 13 from Kazmir. Also consider that Hamels only allowed four runners into scoring position against Kazmir’s eight. And that’s all only in one game. Let’s do a comparison of the two aces throughout the postseason, shall we?
At this level of domination, it no longer suffices to say that Hamels has been better. It’s virtually unheard of for two “aces” in the World Series to be so unevenly matched. Hamels has been an inspiration for his team, especially his fellow starters. He was a muzzle for the newly enthusiastic Tampa fans in their own dome, and a major source of frustration for his counterpart Kazmir. Last night was more of the same. Four lackluster innings from Kazmir, replete with a good deal of sarcastic eye-rolling and weary face rubbing. Hamels went six, forced 11 ground balls against four in the air, and only threw 75 pitches. Shoot, he’s actually still in the game!
There’s been plenty written during this postseason about the Phillies’ lack of depth in the starting rotation. For the most part, it’s been true. Their starters had an ERA of 4.29 during the regular season, worst among teams qualifying for the playoffs (Tampa was at 3.97). And yes, they allowed 123 home runs over the course of the year, fifth-most in baseball. Far be it from us to deny that when Jamie Moyer got his first career victory–on June 16, 1986–he did so by outdueling STEVE CARLTON. The media has given scads of attention to juicy tidbits like these, but in doing so they’ve glossed over the single biggest reason why Philadelphia is about to wade its way to a world championship: Cole Hamels.