Hamels used to look up to Pettitte as a kid
When the Philadelphia
The young kid vs. the old October pro could be another classic pitching matchup.
“Andy Pettitte and
“Andy Pettitte has been very effective for a long time, and he’s always the kind of guy I’ve looked at and hoped to be one day in his shoes. Now I’m here and I’m going to be able to face him in the World Series and he’s on the
It’s important for plenty of reasons. The defending champion
Pettitte has more postseason victories than any pitcher in major league history. He has four championship rings. The 37-year-old earned his 16th postseason win in the ALCS clincher against the Los Angeles
Overall, Pettitte was 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA this year. He’s 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in three postseason starts.
Last October, Hamels looked like a young Pettitte. He went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five postseason starts, helping the
The tall, slender Hamels never was shy about discussing his lofty goals. His to-do list includes winning Cy Young Awards, starting All-Star games and pitching no-hitters. Hamels didn’t check any of those off this season.
Instead, he struggled from the start. A minor elbow injury slowed him down in spring training and he wasn’t ready to go on Opening Day. Hamels then ran into some bad luck in April when he was forced to leave early in two straight starts because of freak injuries.
Hamels finished 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA, numbers that resemble a journeyman pitcher; not someone who hopes to end up in Cooperstown. He hasn’t come close to duplicating his postseason success this year, going 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts.
“I think that some of it was I wasn’t able to locate as well earlier in the season,” Hamels said. “Then it’s the mental burden which can kind of wear you down week after week of not being able to go out there and do what you’re expecting yourself to do. And then what everybody else expects you to do, too. So it’s been a growing process.”
Outsiders look at Hamels and think he’s pitching hurt. After all, he’s too talented to struggle, right? But he’s not injured. Hamels wouldn’t hesitate to pull himself from a game for health reasons. His problems are more mental and systematic. Hamels breezed through his first three seasons, relying on a sharp fastball and an outstanding changeup. Hitters have figured that out. Pitching coach Rich Dubee stressed to Hamels the importance of throwing a curveball. He’s worked it into his repertoire, and his success often depends on how well he’s throwing the hook.
“You need to be able to throw quite a few pitches in the big leagues,” Hamels said. “I know I can throw my fastball and changeup for strikes any day of the week. But being able to throw a curveball and mixing that in changes the eye level, and with that, it’s a different speed than my other two pitches.”
Recently, Hamels has looked visibly frustrated when things don’t go right. In Game 1 of the NLCS at Los Angeles, Hamels showed up teammates
Perhaps Hamels could take a page from Pettitte, who doesn’t let anything bother him. Pettitte pulls his cap low over his eyes, blocks everything out and has tunnel vision with the catcher.
“I just wanted to try to simplify it as much as I can and just see the mitt and try to see my ball going to where I want it, almost visualizing the pitches before I throw them and stuff like that,” Pettitte said.