Blue Jays ALDS Opponent Profile: Cole Hamels

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Cole Hamels, arguably the number one starter for the Texas Rangers, will take the mound in Game 2 on Friday starting at 12:30PM EST. The Blue Jays are looking to bounce back following a disappointing game one loss. The bottom of Rangers lineup would prove effective in game one, as Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor both homered against David Price.

Hamels, drafted in the first round by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2002, has enjoyed another great year. Starting his year with the Phillies, Hamels would ignore the whirlwind of trade talks from the beginning of the season to pitch to yet again solid numbers. Hamels would also have one of the biggest highlights of his career. On July 25, he would throw his first career no hitter in Wrigley Field against the Cubs.

Finally all the trade rumors would come true, as Hamels was traded to the Rangers ahead of the July 31st deadline for a handful of prospects. The three time all-star Hamels would fit right into his new team, providing quality starts down the stretch for Texas to claim the AL West on the last day of the year.

*Hamels 2015 Season Stats

The southpaw gets it done with a wide variety of pitches: Four seamer, Changeup, Sinker, Cutter, and a Curve. In 2015 Hamels has gotten good results with his cutter and changeup especially .This season, (wCT 0.7 wCB 1.7) Hamels has never relied on using his fastball to dominate batters, as his average velocity is just over 91mph, but he lives using his deadly change, which is one of the best in the league at wCH 16.9!

To put how good that pitch is into perspective, Clayton Kershaw’s Curveball is wCB 16.2 this year. To compare those two pitches, Kershaw has thrown 616 Curveballs’s this year, to Hamels throwing 796 changeups. Hamels changeup has been hit 42 times, striking out 33% of batters. Kershaw has had 22 hits, striking out 51.9% of batters. The two numbers that make Hamels changeup deadly are the fact that throws 560 of those 796 pitches for strikes, 26.3% of them being swinging strikes! It truly is the pitch that has made Hamels elite throughout the years.

A lot of talk entering this series, has been about the Blue Jays hitting lefty pitchers well with that righty-heavy lineup. Righty batters, against Cole Hamels on the road, have hit .255/.315/.377. When you look at the split between righties and lefties, it doesn’t matter who’s hitting, Hamels will prove to be consistent no matter who he’s throwing to.

The Blue Jays bats will hopefully be coming out strong in game two, wanting to prove their posts season worth after dropping game one. Hamels will be making his 14th post season start (World Series MVP 2008), so his experience could also cause problems for the Blue Jays hitters. Hamels in the playoffs is 7-4 in 81.2IP, with a 3.20ERA with a WHIP of 1.07. It’s been 4 seasons (851 IP) since pitching in the playoffs and he’s a different pitcher now. Even though his changeup is elite, it was even better back in those Phillies heydays and his other pitches have changed in that time as well. Hamels fastball, in 2008, was 12.1 wFB, and 10.6 back in 2011, the last time he made the playoffs! The last three years Hamels fastball effectiveness wasn’t a plus pitch.

What we do know is that the Blue Jays are too talented not to bounce back with a vengeance. I know Jays fans might be down a bit right now, but this wasn’t a Wild Card game! For as good as Hamels is, the Blue Jays offense is more elite than Hamels’ changeup (The Jays offense is more comparable to 2009 Tim Lincecum Changeup wCH 33.7). This is a five game series, one bad outing doesn’t make or break the season for the Jays.

Next: Should We Worry About Roberto Osuna?

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