Cole Hamels made a brilliant start for the Phillies last night, but they have been a less frequent this year coming off of a 2008 season in which Hamels was just fantastic. The Phillies won the fifth game of the World Series on October 29, 2008. Hamels went six innings in the game and was announced World Series MVP that night. He turned 25-years-old almost two months later, on December 27, 2008.

Hamels was a monster in ’08, first in the regular season and then in the post-season. The 24-year-old threw 227 1/3 innings in the regular season, going 14-10 in 33 starts with a 3.09 ERA and a 1.08 ratio. The Phillies wouldn’t have won the World Series without him as he tossed 35 post-season innings with a 1.80 ERA and an 0.91 ratio.

Only one pitcher in the National League threw more regular season innings than Hamels, but Johan Santana, who threw seven more frames than Hamels in the regular season, didn’t throw any in the post-season. Among pitchers who pitched at least part of the year in the AL, Roy Halladay threw about 19 more innings in the regular season than Hamels, but also didn’t pitch in the playoffs. Workhorse CC Sabathia led all baseball in innings pitched with 253 and added 3 2/3 more in the post-season to give him a total of 256 2/3 between the regular and post-season. That’s still not as many as Hamels, who threw 262 1/3 innings between the regular and post-seasons to lead everyone. A lot of the other guys weren’t 24-years-old.

The 2009 season has been a different story than 2008 for Hamels and that must have a whole lot to do with how many innings he threw last year, mustn’t it? Between 2004 and 2008 there were ten pitchers who threw 220 innings when they were in their age 25 season or younger. Here’s a look at their ERA, ratio and strikeouts per nine innings in the year they did it and the year after — the seven who got worse the next year are in the top group and the three who got better, Lincecum, Haren and Buehrle, are in a group at the bottom:


Year

Player(age)

ERA

ERA next

Ratio

Ratio next

SO/9

SO/9 next

2008

Hamels (24)

3.09

4.78

1.08

1.35

7.8

7.7

2006

Willis (24)

3.87

5.17

1.42

1.60

6.4

6.4

2005

Willis (23)

2.63

3.87

1.13

1.42

6.5

6.4

2005

Zambrano (24)

3.26

3.41

1.15

1.29

8.1

8.8

2005

Garland (25)

3.50

4.51

1.17

1.36

4.7

4.8

2004

Sheets (25)

2.70

3.33

0.98

1.07

10.0

8.1

2004

Santana (25)

2.61

2.87

0.92

0.97

10.5

9.2
               

2008

Lincecum (24)

2.62

2.43

1.17

1.04

10.5

10.4

2006

Haren (25)

4.12

3.07

1.21

1.21

7.1

7.8

2004

Buehrle (25)

3.89

3.12

1.25

1.18

6.1

5.7

So in seven of those ten seasons the player had a worse ERA and a worse ratio the season after he threw more than 220 innings at age 25 or younger. The three guys at the bottom each got better in both ERA and ratio the year after (except for Dan Haren’s ratio, which stayed at 1.21 in both 2006 and 2007).

Just three of the ten pitchers struck out more batters the next season per nine innings than they had the previous season (Haren, Zambrano and Garland). Willis’s numbers show 6.4 strikeouts per nine for 2006, but his rate was down a tiny bit in 2007.

Hamels numbers for ERA and ratio have taken a big hit compared to the other six pitchers who were worse after throwing a huge number of innings at a young age. Even after a brilliant start last night, his ERA for 2009 is still up about 146% from last year. The only change in ERA that is worse than that is Willis’s difference between 2005 and 2006 — his ERA went up 147%, but he still threw to a 3.87 ERA in 2006 after a ton of innings in ’05 at age 23. Willis’s ’05-’06 difference in ratio is also the only one that is worse than Hamels for ’08 and ’09. Willis saw his ratio rise 126% compared to 124% for Hamels.

So of the seven pitchers who got worse, Willis probably got the most worse from ’05 to ’06, but Hamels from ’08 to ’09 was second.

The other thing that I think is critical is how many innings Hamels threw in the post-season. The 227 1/3 innings that Hamels threw in the regular season is a lot. But the 35 innings he threw in the post-season is a ton. Forgetting age, the last time that any player threw that many innings in the post-season was 2003 when Josh Beckett threw 42 2/3. Beckett was just 23 years-old, but he had thrown just 142 innings in the regular season.

So has there ever been a player 25 or younger that threw 220 innings in the regular season and then threw 35 or more in the post-season? No drum roll, please, cause while I’m sure there’s someone out there who knows the answer I’m also sure it isn’t me. What I do know is that there’s nobody 25 or under that threw 220 innings in the regular season and then threw 38 or more innings in the post-season that year. Baseball-Reference’s list only goes to the top ten and the guys at the bottom of the list threw 38 innings in the post-season. Of the guys that threw at least 38 innings in the post-season, Fernando Valenzuela may be the closest to doing it. In 1981 Valenzuela threw 40 2/3 innings in the post-season at age 20 but had thrown only 192 1/3 frames in the regular season.

This suggests that all three of Condrey, Romero and Bastardo are expected to return this season.

Brett Myers struck out five in two innings for Reading last night without allowing a hit or a walk.