Cole Hamels came into 2012 in a contract year, and many, many people expected this to be his last year in Philadelphia. To start the season, Charlie Manuel even elected to skip a day for Hamels so that he could pitch in the home opener.
With the contract undoubtedly on his mind, Hamels still started the year great. Aside from his poor performance in the home opener that I and the rest of the PN Crew witnessed, he had an ERA under 3 up until June 7. And then, in June and July, he posted an ERA of 4.21. This was also a time when the trade rumors–with Hamels’ name being thrown around everywhere–were swirling. It was pretty clear that he was more than a little distracted by it all.
On July 21, he took the mound in what a lot of people thought would be his final start at Citizens Bank Park in a Phillies uniform. He hit his first career home run, gave up a home run to opposing pitcher Matt Cain, and, in 2012 Phillies fashion, blew an 8th inning lead after giving up a home run to Melky Cabrera.
When he walked off the mound, he was greeted with a standing ovation from the largest crowd in Citizens Bank Park history. We all thought it could be the end of the Hamels era.
Then, two days later, Jayson Stark reported that the Phillies would push hard for a Hamels extension that week. Joel Sherman then reported that the Phils’ offer to Hamels was around six years for $140 million. Then it happened. On July 25, Hamels signed a six year, $144 million contract extension to stay in Philadelphia. Phillies fans everywhere rejoiced, and didn’t even care that in his next start he gave up five runs in five innings. He would be a Phillie for six more years, and that’s all that mattered.
From that point on, his ERA for the rest of the year was again under 3 (2.58 to be exact), which brought his 2012 ERA to 3.05. He pitched the most innings, had the highest strikeout rate, and lowest ERA among Phillies starters.
Grade: A+ … Even if Hamels didn’t pitch well in 2012, he would have gotten a positive grade. The fact that he signed the extension was enough to make 2012 a huge success for Hamels.