Can we all just agree right now that Cole Hamels is one of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues?
Hamels, the 24-year-old ace left-hander for the Philadelphia Phillies, threw eight innings of two-hit shutout ball Wednesday as Philly topped Milwaukee 3-1 in the opener of the National League Division Series.
Hamels wasn’t just effective, he was simply outstanding.
In short, he did what an ace should do.
He was perfect through four innings, allowed a hit in the fifth, got out of trouble in the sixth inning and cruised through the seventh and eighth. His nine strikeouts were the most Hamels had since June 11 and considering the magnitude Wednesday, this was easily his best performance of the season.
Just how good was Hamels? Ask his teammates:
“Cole just took the bull by the horns tonight and went out there and was just in complete command,” said closer Brad Lidge. “He set the tone with his demeanor and with his ability. Just watching him was a lot of fun tonight. He was in complete control.”
“That’s vintage Cole,” said veteran lefthanded pitcher Jamie Moyer. “The way he threw, the way he acted, the way he carried himself on the mound – you just see him maturing before you and becoming more of a pitcher. He’s creating his own path.”
As a fan of Hamels, it was great to see him have his best stuff on the game’s biggest stage. People have questioned his attitude, his endurance, his health and most frustrating, his value. But as Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan writes, Hamels’ performance was “the stuff of legend, the stuff of Carlton and Schilling, the stuff that makes October baseball so special.”
There are so many superlatives I could use for Hamels right now, but here’s one nobody should dare use.