After his dominating performance in the 2008 playoffs, Cole Hamels looked to feed off of that and head into 2009 as the undisputed ace of the Phillies pitching staff. Things didn’t really work out that way for him though, as he finished 10-11 on the season and the Phillies had to acquire Cliff Lee to bolster the pitching late in the season.
With Roy Halladay getting the 2010 season off to a great start by dominating the Nationals in Citizens Bank Park South, Hamels looks to follow that and get back to where he was in 2007 and 2008. He went 29-15 over those two seasons, but has kind of been mediocre since.
With Halladay in town to take some pressure off, it would be easy to assume that he could just forget about being that “ace” and just pitch. However, with his past numbers, he was pitching better when he was generally thought to be the best pitcher on the staff. Hamels seems to thrive off of that pressure to succeed. I never thought a California kid like him would be able to last very long in Philadelphia, but it seems like he has the mental toughness to get it done, all puppy backpack wearing aside.
Doc may even ratchet the pressure up on Hamels a bit. With a dominating pitcher like Halladay around him every day, Hamels might just try and match that success. Having Halladay pitching in front of him could do a lot for him, just as having Jamie Moyer around helped Hamels deal with the pressures of being a young star pitcher.
The Phillies are counting on Hamels to get back to where he was two years ago. You can pick up a .500 pitcher anywhere. The Phillies need someone to step right up after Halladay pitches and continue to get the wins. If and when Hamels can get back to his 07/08 form, the Fightins would have to be considered even more of a favorite in the National League, if that’s even possible.
Seattle can have King Felix and Clifton Phifer. We’ve got the Doc and Hollywood.