Cole Hamels wasn’t kidding when he said being traded to Chicago would be a good thing for him. Pitching for his new team for the first time, Hamels rode the adrenaline dump to touch 96.1 mph with his four-seamer early in the game. His overall average velocity of 93.8 was not only the highest he’s had in a game all season, it was the hardest he’s thrown since…any guesses?
Wait, I already gave it away in the title, didn’t I? Shoot.
On July 25, 2015, his last start with the Phillies, Hamels averaged 94.3 on the fastball as he famously no-hit the Cubs at Wrigley. He was at 93.7 in his second start with the Rangers and hit that same mark once in 2017, but never averaged more than 93 in any start last season. Even going all the way back to 2014, we can only find eight starts in which Hamels threw as hard as he did Wednesday night in Pittsburgh (six in 2014, two in 2015).
The veteran lefty threw 2 mph harder Wednesday night than he’s averaged for the season, and there’s reason to believe that’s a sustainable trend. After sitting just under 91 in April, Hamels increased to 92.1 in May and then dipped slightly to 91.8 in June. July saw him at 92.6, though control issues resulted in that being perhaps the worst single month of his career.
With his new team and a little more motivation — both the playoff chase and the possibility of having his 2019 option picked up — we may see Hamels siting 93-94 more frequently.
*All velo data via Baseball Savant