Hamels’ changeup has lacked the ride and break it once had, but produced just as well in 2019 as it had in his prime. Its 48.1 O-swing% made his 32.4% zone rate more tenable, and the 24.9% SwStr that resulted helped lead to a 13.8 pVAL, easily his best since 2015. If there was a blemish, the pitch did boast a career-high 7.8% walk rate.
At just 2040 rpm, the spin rate on Hamels’ curveball dropped more than 150 rpm in 2019, but kept essentially the same movement at 78.1 mph. He placed the ball below the zone more than in recent seasons, with its zone rate dropping to just 31.3%, and its chase rate dropped to 27.5%. This led its lowest SwStr since 2011 (10.8%) and highest career WRC+ at 90.
The 2018 increase in velocity on Hamels’ four-seamer reversed in 2019, with it averaging just 91.7 mph. But he achieved a career-best 9.0 SwStr% on the pitch, with almost all of them coming in the top third of the zone or higher. But while the whiffs turned into strikeouts with a 17.8% strikeout rate on the pitch, its walk rate pushed up to 13.1%, and hard contact combined to yield a 158 WRC+ on the pitch.
While Hamels’ four-seamer saw results near career worsts, his cutter saw a near-best performance, boasting a 67 WRC+. He pushed its zone rate to 53.4% while seeing its Z-swing rate drop to a career-low 66.0%. The whiffs the pitch earned in 2018 dried up, but the combined 25.6 CSW% was just shy of his 2018 mark of 27.0%. The results may have been aided by a .222 BABIP, however.
Hamels’ four-seamer is nothing to write home about. Statistically, it was his worst pitch in 2018 (-6.7 pVal), but it is the pitch he has the most command of, and it acts as a setup offering for his breaking and offspeed stuff.
Home runs are the name of the game with Hamels’ change. Of his breaking pitches, it left the yard the most at seven, and one-eighth of the time it was hit in the air, it was a home run. If he brings down the number of home runs allowed, it’ll be an elite pitch.
This is Hamels’ best offering and is a near Money Pitch, as it put up a 13.6% swinging-strike rate, 37.5% O-swing rate, and a 48.6% zone rate. The strikeout rate with this pitch also jumped 8.3 points from 2017, which showed Hamels found a real groove with his cutter.
This has been Hamels’ ground-ball pitch for the majority of his career, and 2018 was no different. When made contact with, it created a ground ball nearly 60% of the time.
Once his best strikeout pitch, averaging a 48% K rate from 2011 to 2016, the curve has seen a steady drop-off in punching out hitters as it only registered a 27.9% K rate in 2018. However, it is still effective as he has not allowed a home run off the pitch in two years.
New pitch alert! Hamels added this sixth pitch to his repertoire in 2018, and while it was not as good as Jameson Taillon’s addition of a slider, it did strike out 23 batters, which led to a 47.9% K rate! He used it as solely a chase pitch in 2018, so keep an eye on if Hamels feels he needs to throw it more in the zone (26.5% zone rate).