Not Carpe-ing the Diem: Maybe Cole Hamels just needs to join the Dead Poet's Society
So I thought we'd start out this morning by taking a look at Cole Hamels' Day/Night splits after yesterday's abomination in Houston. Hamels said afterward it was one of the worst games he pitched all season. He probably meant to say all career. There is a strong argument to be made that his performance against the Astros was, indeed, one of the least productive outings Hamels has had as a major league starter. He lasted just four innings, allowing 6 runs on 7 hits and walking one. Furthermore, it was just the second time in 62 major league starts that he did not strike out a batter.
So what's Hamels problem?
Well, the numbers suggest it may be daylight. Maybe he's a vampire. Or a possum. Whatever the case, here are his career day/night splits:
Day: 7-5, 5.25 ERA, .278 BAA (20 starts)
Night: 22-11, 2.96 ERA, .214 BAA (42 starts)
Yesterday's outing was his shortest1 since the 2006 season. In that 2006 season, he had four outings of four innings or less. Three of those outings were played in daylight.
1For all intents and purposes, I'm not going to count his two outings from last season in which he lasted fewer than five innings. True, that essentially makes the statement that I made in the aformentioned paragraph false. But that's why we've got footnotes. One of those two outings last season came when Hamels was on a pitch count after his month long stint on the disabled list. The other came because of a rain delay in the fourth inning that prevented him from pitching any further. Feel free to file your complaints in the comments section.
So what gives? Well, when I roll down to the ballpark today, I'll ask him. The Inquirer's Bob Ford addressed the issue last April 27, but at that point in time Hamels didn't even have a full major league season under his belt, so the sample was pretty small.
Overall, statistics suggest that pitchers have a slightly rougher time during the day. But really, the difference seems negligible. At the very least, it isn't nearly as pronounced as Hamels' day/night splits.
In 2007, National League pitchers carried a 4.61 ERA in day games versus a 4.36 ERA in night games. Opponents hit .269 during the day versus .266 at night. So there: numbers were only a few percentage points worse during the day.
Hamels isn't the only pitcher who has struggled during the day. Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo's day/night differential has been well-documented. Then there is Brian Bannister, who might be the Bizarro Cole Hamels. As Joe Posnanski examines in his blog out of Kansas City, Bannister actually thrives during the day, and is only so-so at night.
. . .Matt Holliday's on the 15-day disabled list, so the bottom of the Phils' rotation won't have the pleasure of facing the man who finished 17 points behind Jimmy Rollins in last year's National League MVP voting.
. . .After Rudy Seanez picked up the win yesterday, the Phillies bullpen has a combined record of 14-7. The Phillies rotation, meanwhile, has a combined record of 14-17.
. . .Tonight marks the start of a 10-game home stand. We're all grateful.