This is what the Yankees are up against tonight. Cole Hamels doesn’t have an especially good curveball, and his fastball seems to have slipped a bit from the years I saw him in Scranton, but his changeup remains a plus-plus pitch. He has to locate his fastball and mix in some curveballs, but it’s the change that makes him a front-line starter.
“Everybody is geared up to hit the fastball in the big leagues,” Hamels said. “If you can throw a changeup in there, it screws them up. But at the same point, if a guy gets two strikes, I guess the home run swing gets put in the back of their mind and they just try to get the ball in play. It’s not necessarily an advantage for me now because they do know what I’m going to throw most of the time when I have a strikeout count.”
When Hamels faced the Yankees earlier this season, he went six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits. He struck out five and walked none, but that was all the way back in May. He hasn’t had a very good postseason — and his regular season wasn’t nearly as good as last year — but he’s tricky because he throws offspeed so often.
“If you try to pitch to them more than what it took you to get to the big leagues, you’re going to be in a not comfortable spot,” Hamels said. “I look for certain places I might be able to throw a guy in a certain situation, but really, deep down, I just kind of have to believe that my stuff is pretty good. It’s got me some success in the big leagues, so I might as well stick to it.”