Let’s get something out of the way now: Roy Halladay is the National League’s 2010 Cy Young Winner. At this point, it’s a race for second and third place among the rest of the contenders. Or that’s the way it should be, anyhow.
One guy who should finish close to (if not right behind) Halladay in the voting? His partner-in-Ace, Cole Hamels.
The regular readers of this blog are more than aware of my man-crush on Cole Hamels and his ability to change speeds and hurl a rawhide orb better than most, (Relevant) so it’s only natural that I proclaim that he should, at the very least, receive consideration for Cy Young in 2010.
Currently, Hamels’ 2.91 ERA is good enough for tenth in the league, which is not only impressive considering that 2010 is the year of the pitcher, but also given how rocky the start to his 2010 campaign was. In five starts in April, he and his 5.28 ERA looked more like the Cole who coughed it up in last year’s playoffs than the Cole who is currently the best pitcher on the Phillies’ staff.
But since then, he’s been an entirely different pitcher, putting up a 2.51 ERA in 172 innings over 27 starts since May. That is among the best in the National League over that span, ahead of the likes of Tim Hudson, Roy Halladay and Ubaldo Jimenez.
At this point, many are probably thinking “But you can’t take out his April starts. They still happened, and that’s a egregious instance of cherry picking to support your point.” If you thought that, then you’d be correct. I am neglecting his numbers from April, but I am doing so to illustrate this: In baseball (and sports, ice cream cones, screenwriting, life in general), it isn’t how you start, it’s how you finish.
This goes for the players as well as the teams. How many MVPs have been won on the strength of a strong second half? How many teams have entered the All Start break with a division lead, only to miss the playoffs? We, as Phillies fans, should know this more than anyone. Look at 2007, 2008, and so far, this season. All required fantastic finishes, which brings me to my point, that is: What is more important, a strong start or a strong finish?
Ubaldo Jimenez was the greatest pitcher in the world in April and May (10-1, 0.78 ERA), but then summer hit and he tanked. Since then, he’s put up a 4.42 ERA since then, a far cry from the pitcher who started the season with such dominance. But yet, we look at his 19-6 record and 3.00 ERA and say “Now there is a guy who is a great pitcher!”
For Cole, it was just the opposite: He started out slow, but turned it on in May and has been every bit as good, and sometimes better, than his teammate and fellow Ace, Roy Halladay, along with nearly every other starting pitcher in the N.L. And while his stats on the season aren’t leading the league, they are still impressive. He is in the top ten in the N.L. In innings pitched, strikeouts, WHIP, K/BB, and K/9.
But again, the most impressive thing about him is what he has done lately, while the Phillies have surged to overtake the Braves in the division. He’s allowed two runs in 28.2 innings this month, good for a 0.63 ERA. Since the break, he’s been the epitome of great, with the second best ERA in the MAJORS (1.89) among starters with at least 70 innings pitched. Literally, that’s better than any other pitcher not named Felix Hernandez.
At the risk of getting all Jon Morosi on everyone, there is a lot that can and should be said about how pitchers perform when the stakes are highest. The games do not occur in a vacuum, especially in September. When Cole’s performance is viewed in that context, side by side with the fact that Halladay has been somewhat un-Halladay like lately, it gives a ton more meaning to those starts and added weight to how good that he’s been.*
*Side Note: I did not forget about Roy Oswalt, who has been really, really good, and is just as deserving as Cole or Doc for the Cy Young. Guy has been straight-up great since coming over from Houston, and he has as much to do with this recent run of success as anyone else on the team. But this post is just about Cole, not Roy. Just want you all to know that I didn’t forget about him.
Does that mean that Cole should win the Cy Young? Not necessarily, as I think it is about the entirety of a season, which is why Doc gets my vote. But his recent run of dominance should garner much more consideration for the award, ahead of the Jimenezs, the Wainwrights, the Hudsons, and just about every other pitcher in the N.L. in the conversation.
Which brings me back to my premise: What is more important, readers: A strong start, or a strong finish?
- 700 Level
- Crashburn Alley
- High Cheese
- House That Glanville Built
- Philadelphia Will Do
- Philled In
- Philly Gameday
- Philly Gossip
- Phoul Ballz
- The Good Phight
- The Insider
- The Zo Zone
- Where's Weems?
- Who Does He Play For?
- Zoo With Roy