'Cole Hamels' photo (c) 2012, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Young, successful, rich. Toss in a hot wife, and there's a lot to love/hate with Cole Hamels. When the lefty is on the hill dealing everyone loves him. However, when he struggles as he did for a good deal of the first part of the 2013 season that love turns to hate. There are still plenty of reasons to love Hamels for 2014, but before we get to all that let's talk about what happened to him in 2013.

In April he went 1-3 with a 4.78 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.

In May he went 0-6 with a 4.95 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.

Through 12 starts he was 1-9 with 4.86 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.

Many bailed.

I suggested buying low on the ace.

Did you listen to your heart or The Oracle?

Hopefully you listened to... me.

Hamels only won eight games on the year, the lowest total of his eight year career, but he did go 7-5 after that brutal start. But get this. He was dominant after the first two months of the year. That's right, I tossed out dominant. I know there are times where I can exaggerate for effect, it's what makes me such a great writer, and modest human being. However, that's a totally accurate way to describe how Hamels pitches from June 1st on – dominant.

Hamels made 21 starts. In 13 of those starts he allowed two or fewer earned runs. He posted a 2.96 ERA (career 3.38). He posted a 1.07 WHIP (career 1.14). He struck out 8.4 batters per nine (career 8.5). He had a 5.44 K/BB ratio (career 3.83).

So for 1/3 of the 2013 season Hamels was awful. For 2/3 of the season he was better than his already elite levels. Did you let the first two months skew your thinking about his overall effort? Some more numbers.

2013: 3.60 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 4.0 K/BB, 0.86 HR/9, 1.17 GB/FB Career: 3.38 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 3.8 K/BB, 1.05 HR/9, 1.16 GB/FB

It wasn't pretty, and it was all over the map, but here's the truth about Cole Hamels in 2013: he was the same pitcher he always is.

'So Ray, what the hell was his problem then early in the year when he was awful and will that happen to him again in 2014?'

First, no one can tell the future, not even The Oracle. OK, I can get close most of the time, but the fact is that my crystal ball doesn't always give 100 percent definitive answers. My best guess, based on everything including reading through the cracks on the crystal ball, is that Hamels will not struggle again like he did the first two months of the 2013 season.

Second, what was his problem early in the year? It's really easy to pinpoint two facts.

(1) He allowed 10 homers in 12 starts. He allowed only 11 homers over his final 22 starts. Remember the 1.05 HR/9 mark I noted above for his career rate? His mark in April-May of 2013 was 1.22.

(2) He had a very hard time pinpointing his pitches. Hamels walked 17 batters in April. He didn't walk more than eight batters in any other month of the 2013 season. Over his final 16 starts of the season he walked... you guessed it, 17 batters.

The 2014 season represents a unique buy low opportunity with a pitcher who is still at the top of his game. Don't worry about the win-loss record. It could easily turn around in 2014. Also, don’t worry about April-May when considering what to bid on with Hamels. He's still a fantasy ace. He should still be drafted as one. If you can get him at a cost of less than that consider yourself off to a strong start in 2014.


By Ray Flowers


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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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