Making sense of Hamels' perennial issues with Mets

Making sense of Hamels' perennial issues with Mets
April 30, 2014, 1:00 pm
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Cole Hamels has a 4.65 ERA against the Mets in 27 games and a 3.30 ERA against every other team in 220 games. (USA Today Images)

Fifteen to 20 years from now, when Cole Hamels' playing days are over, several sticking points will come up in most conversations about his career.

The 2008 World Series.

The $144 million contract.

The durability.

The lack of run support.

And those damn Mets.

The Mets have been Hamels' nemesis as long as he's been in the bigs. He's 7-14 against them with a 4.65 ERA. In the last eight seasons, he's had a losing record against the Mets six times and an ERA of 4.00 or higher six times.

New York has hit .296 against Hamels in 27 games. No other team Hamels has faced more than 10 times has hit better than .256.

And all of this is despite the Mets' .462 winning percentage since 2009. The Mets haven't won 80 games in six years, yet they've had Hamels' number all the while.

It's difficult to fathom, and even more difficult to explain. It starts with David Wright, who's a .333 hitter against Hamels in 66 at-bats with nine extra-base hits and 15 RBIs.

But Wright was 0 for 5 Tuesday night as Hamels put more men on base (13) than ever before in a game in which he didn't finish the fifth inning.

There's Daniel Murphy, who went 3 for 3 off Hamels Tuesday and is now 15 for 37 lifetime (.405). Murphy has always been an underrated hitter, and for years he's been slotted into the two-hole against Hamels and created run-scoring opportunities for the middle of the order.

But the main issue seems to be the Mets' approach to Hamels. They wait him out. They make him throw pitches. GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins have preached plate discipline since Day 1, and it especially shows against Hamels.

On Tuesday, Eric Young Jr. began the game with a six-pitch at-bat. In the fourth inning, when Hamels walked four batters, he threw six pitches to four different Mets. In this particular game, it was a case of Hamels simply not locating. It was a cold, wet night and his pitches were all over the place.

But more often than not, the Mets make him work and let him beat himself.

Hamels has walked five or more batters in a game seven times. Three of those games have been against the Mets.

Hamels has averaged 15.5 pitches per inning in his career. But against the Mets, he's averaged 20 to 26 pitches per inning six times and been above 18.2 pitches per inning 10 times.

This was just Hamels' second start of the season, and it's way too early to know if there's a reason to be concerned. He looked very sharp at Dodger Stadium last week and was making pitches early Tuesday night before suffering an implosion that culminated in his walking the opposing pitcher for the second straight game.

For now, just chalk it up to the Mets' familiarity with and solid gameplanning for Hamels.

His next start will come Sunday against a Nationals team he's dominated. Hamels is 15-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 28 starts vs. Washington, and the Nats won't have Ryan Zimmerman or Bryce Harper.

Seems like a prime opportunity to get back on track.

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