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Hamels Was Great, But He Can Be Even Better

That sounds sacreligious to say hours after the lefty earned the NLCS MVP, winning both Games 1 and 5, pitching seven innings in both and giving up only three runs across the 14 total innings, an amazing 1.93 ERA.

Still, the latest Phillie pitcher to earn NLCS MVP -- Curt Schilling won the 1993 award despite not winning a single game ... or giving up a single run -- was well deserving of the MVP because he kept the Dodgers under wraps without one of his best pitches.

Hamels usually relies on three separate pitches: a fastball with good movement that reaches the mid 90 miles-per-hour, a devastating changeup (see what Phillies GM Pat Gillick says about Hamels' change here) and a straight curveball.

Unfortunately for Hamels, his curve wasn't working last night. Of his 108 pitches, only 11 were curveballs, and only three of those 11 were strikes (one was tattooed to center field for a second-inning single by James Loney). Even more striking is that the two innings in which Hamels set down the Dodgers in order -- the third and fourth innings -- were the two frames in which he didn't throw a single curve.

With only one out of every 10 pitches Hamels threw a curveball, and only one out of every three of those curveballs crossing the plate, the Dodgers hitters only had to worry about tracking and hitting two pitches; the fastball and changeup.

Of course, that didn't slow down Hamels. Mixing location, ever-changing pitch patterns and accuracy with both the fastball and change (Hamels walked three, but one was an "unintentional" intentional pass to Manny Ramirez), he held down the Dodgers long enough to set the Phillies up for a World Series trip ... and set himself up for the NLCS MVP.

Here's Hamels' curveball breakdown by inning:

1st inning: 3 curveballs, no strikes
2nd inning: 1 curveball, hit for a single by James Loney
3rd inning: no curveballs (1-2-3 inning)
4th inning: no curveballs (1-2-3 inning)
5th inning: 1 curveball, no strikes
6th inning: 3 curveballs, two strikes
7th inning: 3 curveballs, one strike

By Cameron Smith  |  October 16, 2008; 9:52 AM ET
Categories:  Dodgers , Phillies  
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Next: How the Red Sox Can Win


He was good, but a little help with the strike zone didn't hurt him, either.

Posted by: NR Jeff Kemp | October 16, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

that would be kenT, with a t. K-E-N-T.

We now return you to our regular crickets, already in progress.

Posted by: Pyto | October 16, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

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