Everything is suddenly looking better than anyone could have hoped atop the Phillies rotation. Assuming the Phillies stop making three errors a game and find their way into the post-season, if we can just avoid a brawl over who starts the first playoff game everything should be swell. If it turns out that it’s Hamels who goes first, it will mean the Phillies aren’t starting last year’s Cy Young winner. If it turns out it’s Lee who gets the first start, it will mean they aren’t starting the guy who was the MVP of the NLCS and World Series last year and who’s 4-1 with a 2.16 ERA and an 0.94 ratio in six post-season starts for his career.
Here are the rates that Hamels and Lee have allowed hits, walks, extra-base hits and home runs and gotten strikeouts over their careers (remembering that Lee has spent his whole career in the AL and Hamels has spent his whole career in the NL):
Hamels has allowed runs, hits and walks at a lower rate than Lee while striking out more batters. He’s also allowed extra-base hits and home runs more regularly than Lee.
Lee has made 22 starts against NL teams. Here’s what his numbers and Hamels’ numbers look like against the NL:
Lee has a 3.18 ERA and a 1.25 ratio in his action against the NL compared to a 3.44 ERA and a 1.13 ratio for Hamels. Lee curiously has a better ERA and runs allowed numbers despite the fact that his rates for allowing hits, walks and home runs are all worse than Hamels.
Lee has allowed home runs at a higher rate in his starts against the National League. I think you have to assume that his rate will decrease as he pitches more against NL hitters.
Hamels hasn’t faced the American League as often as Lee has faced the NL, but he’s been hit hard in the 12 starts he has made. Here’s how their numbers compare in their action against the NL:
Hamels has an ugly 4.96 ERA and a 1.39 ratio against the AL compared to a 4.13 ERA with a 1.32 ratio for Lee. In his starts against the AL he has kept his walk rate below Lee’s and still strikes more people out, but his rate of allowing hits, extra-base hits and home runs have all gone way up above the rates for Lee.
Oddly, Lee has allowed fewer runs per game in both his starts against the National League and the American League but has not overall for his career. That’s because he has thrown so many more of his innings in the AL compared to Hamels where the runs allowed numbers for both are much higher.
I think the things we know for sure about the pair are that Hamels walks fewer hitters and strikes out more. Despite the fact that their rates of allowing home runs in their NL games are pretty similar, Lee is less often hurt by the home run. Hamels got hit hard in his starts by the AL to push his career rate for allow hits against the AL above Lee, but Lee will almost surely prove to give up more hits over the long run.
Their rates for allowing doubles and triples over their career are nearly identical. Overall, Hamels has allowed 2.00 doubles plus triples per nine innings while Lee has allowed 2.01 per nine. I think you have to conclude that Lee will allow fewer doubles and triples once they’re both pitching in the National League.
Finally, Hamels has gone a little bit deeper in starts than Lee has over his career. In 104 career starts Hamels has thrown 661 innings, which is about 6.36 innings per start. Lee has thrown 1111 1/3 innings in 178 starts — about 6.24 innings per start.
Victorino is day-to-day with a bruised knee but is not likely to go on the DL.