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Monday, October 13, 2008

Why Hamels should not pitch tonight

Many Phillies fans are calling for Cole Hamels to pitch game 4 tonight on three-days rest, especially since Derek Lowe is pitching tonight on 3-days rest. This way, Lowe is available to start game 7 on full rest. However, if Hamels waits to pitch until game 5, he would only have two days rest before game 7. It sounds like a good idea to throw Hamels twice more in 4 games...but I'm not so sure.

Hamels has never pitched on 3 days rest before. He is very sensitive about his arm's health. Some may call him soft, others may call him smart. Personally, I think he's a little of both. But that's not the issue - Hamels is who he is. Starting him tonight on 3 days rest, for the first time in his career, may affect his head more than his arm. Let's say Hamels is 100% on board with starting tonight on 3-days rest, but he allows a leadoff home run and the crowd goes wild. Who is to say he doesn't start second guessing himself, possibly underestimating the effects of the fourth day of rest? Confidence is a huge part of pitching, and, even though he's the 'ace,' he is still a young player who is sensitive about his arm's health.

In addition, if Hamels pitches tonight, here are the matchups: Hamels (3 days rest) vs. Lowe (3 days rest). Hamels and Lowe are already very similar pitchers, in terms of effectiveness. If you factor in the days of rest, I think Lowe then has a slight edge over Hamels. Lowe pitched game 7 of the 2004 ALCS on 2 days rest, lasting 6 innings and allowing only one run. Do I think this means Lowe will pitch well tonight? No, but I think Lowe has more confidence and comfort starting on 3 days rest than Hamels. Thus, tonight's pitching matchup would be pretty much even.

If you pitch Hamels tonight, the game 5 pitcher would be either Brett Myers on 3-days rest, or Joe Blanton. Chad Billingsley would square off against the Phils on 3-days rest. Myers on 3-days rest, compared to a healthy Blanton, is just about even. Billingsley vs Blanton/Myers is essentially a wash. So, if you pitch Hamels tonight, you do not have a pitching edge in either of the next two games. [EDIT: I screwed up the number of days rest. Billingsley and Myers both would have been on full rest for game 5. The point still stands though. It's an even matchup.]

Save Hamels for game 5, let him pitch the biggest game of his life on 5-days rest (he likes that extra day) against Billingsley.

The bottom line: A well-rested Hamels has a bigger edge over Billingsley than a short-rested Lowe does over Blanton. I truly believe the Phillies have made the right decision.

1 comment:

Scott Graham said...

So we're all in agreement? Well alright. Russell Martin needs to be dealt with