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Let’s stop with the “Bring Back Cole Hamels” campaign

He wouldn’t even crack this rotation right now

Texas Rangers v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

As we kick into trading season and the Phillies ponder what additions to make to this team, there seems to be a familiar name that keeps cropping up in trade rumors. It’s a name that is met with reverie in the city of Philadelphia, rightfully so. The name is Cole Hamels, hero of the 2008 World Series championship. However, this is ten years later and Phillies fans should want no part of the current Ranger.

Here’s one random website thinking that Hamels would be a good fit with Velasquez headed to the disabled list. Here’s Todd Zolecki mentioning how the fanbase could get behind the addition of the lefty. And here is yet another piece mentioning Hamels’ name when it comes to adding rotation help. It’s understandable. The Rangers are bad and have a good piece to trade in Hamels, who is a pending free agent after the season. Starting pitching is always in demand and no doubt some teams will view Hamels as a major upgrade to not only a regular season rotation, but also, with his World Series ring in tow, as an upgrade to a playoff rotation.

The Phillies should not be among those teams.

Were they to get Hamels, he would have to bump somebody out. He is most definitely not removing Aaron Nola or Jake Arrieta, no matter how much the latter is currently struggling. That leaves Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta or Vince Velasquez as one of the ones who would have to move for Cole. Even with Velasquez currently on the shelf, should any of them be losing their spots?

Check out this chart of the four pitchers this year:

Hamels v. the others

Player IP ERA DRA K% BB% HR/9 GB%
Player IP ERA DRA K% BB% HR/9 GB%
Z. Eflin 56.2 3.02 4.40 24.5% 6.0% 0.64 35.9%
N. Pivetta 87 4.66 3.23 28.0% 7.3% 1.34 43.0%
V. Velasquez 88.1 4.69 3.51 28.5% 9.1% 1.32 39.1%
C. Hamels 102.1 4.05 5.57 23.6% 8.4% 1.76 43.8%

This is how Hamels compares this season with the members of the Phillies’ staff on things they can control on the mound. He is striking out fewer batters than any of them, allowing more home runs than any of them and, according to DRA, doesn’t deserve anything approaching his actual ERA. Sure, Eflin is in the same boat, but after the month of June Eflin just had, who would you rather have?

It’s not even like Hamels is getting unlucky either. His stuff this year hasn’t been very good either. It’s weird because he’s still getting some whiffs on his pitches, just not on the ones we remember.

Brooks Baseball

The fastball and changeup aren’t fooling anyone, but the curveball and cutter are what people are swinging and missing the most at. He is recognizing this, too, as he’s using those pitches less often. This jives with what Fangraphs values his pitches at, as he’s projected to have career lows in those pitches’ values this season.


Meanwhile, those in the rotation this year are seeing a lot of improvement in the pitches they throw most of the times. They are seeing some kind of dropoff in their pitches, but nothing like what Hamels is seeing in his.

While it is very tempting to try and imagine Hamels riding in to town, leading a young rotation into the postseason, there are too many other needs right now for this team to be focusing on. The bullpen just got a major upgrade in the return on Pat Neshek, but there is still some trust issues happening with the younger arms there. The offense has been average at best and might stand to see an upgrade at either third base or right field. It’s also not like the money remaining on Hamels’ contract is an issue either, as we all know the team will spend if it needs to.

No, the issue is that Hamels simply isn’t that good anymore. Or, more accurately, he’s not as good as you think he is anymore. If anything, adding Hamels would kind of a sideways move for the team, not one that would propel them forward into a playoff spot. Adding an ace would be a good move, something Hamels just is not any longer.

A lot of times we get jaded with memories of the past when it comes to our heroes returning. In this case, let’s hope someone else takes a chance on Cole. The Phillies are doing just fine with what they have.