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2009 Projection: Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels, SP (LHP)
Age: 25

2008: 227.1 IP / 14-10 / 3.09 ERA / 53 BB / 196 K / 2 CG / 1.08 WHIP

Summary: Forget the wins and losses: 2008 was a breakthrough season for Hamels. His ERA fell close to below 3.00 while his BB/9 rate continued to fall close to below 2.00. Almost every start was a quality start, as he seemed to dominate most teams with his fastbal-changeup combination. The games he didn’t dominate were true ace performances — sticking through with marginal stuff while only giving up 2-3 runs. He carried that style to the postseason, ripping off a slew of solid starts that earned him two postseason MVP trophies.

Career Level: Ascent (Year 3)

Green Flags: The numbers continued to improve in 2008. That alone is a big green flag. … When balls were put in play, opponents were only hitting .270 — best of his major league career. … Hamels remained a ground-ball pitcher, throwing with a 1.02 GB/FB ratio. … Home run rates also dropped in 2008. … The curveball is slowly becoming an out pitch.

Red Flags: Hamels’ K/9 rates were down, and have decreased each season (down to 7.76). … Hamels threw more than 300 innings, combining the season with postseason and spring training 2008. … Hamels suffered some elbow pain during spring training 2009. … Hitters were striking line drives off Hamels at a higher rate than ever in 2008.

Prognostication: If Hamels remains healthy — a concern, for sure — he can duplicate his 2008 success and maybe improve upon it. Hitters are slowly starting to read him better, but if the curve becomes a prominent pitch, it’ll probably give Hamels another three seasons of baffling success. He’ll likely have another great season, but health and strikeout rates might caution us a bit.

2009 Projection: 203.2 IP / 15-6 / 3.31 ERA / 50 BB / 182 K / 3 CG / 1.10 WHIP

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