The Rangers beat the mighty Yankees. This season, that in itself would be notable.
But what makes last night’s 6-4 win so much more valuable than any other win is the fact that Cole Hamels pitched so brilliantly.
Every brilliant Cole Hamels start means the Rangers return for him gets a bit higher.
The narrative in the local media is that Cole Hamels is a third or fourth starter, his best years are behind him, and the return on him won’t be as great as fans are going to expect. Maybe they are setting the fan base up for disappointment because they are taking into account the reputation of the GM. But, to the teams that would be interested in him, Hamels is much more valuable than the middle-of-the-rotation starter he is being portrayed as.
That the opponent in last night’s start was the Yankees makes it much more significant on a number of levels.
First, if the Yankees are interested—and seeing as how Hamels is probably the premier pitcher available at the deadline and the Yankees Achilles heel will be pitching—last night’s four-hit, two-earned-run outing was an audition. The Yankees could see firsthand what they would be getting. And it would be a good one.
But more importantly, last night he showed he could do something few other starting pitchers can do: dominate the Yankees. And that makes him so much more valuable to any team (other than Houston who is set in pitching ten times over) that has post-season aspirations. Because the road to the World Series title is going through New York.
You can bet the Red Sox took notice of Hamels’s game last night, as did the Phillies and Braves. And Brewers and Cubs.
And while some might sniff at Hamels’s numbers this year, he is a historically slow starter. Remember how he gave up lead off home runs in three of his first four games? But in his last five starts, his ERA is 2.08.
Hamels is in vintage Cole Hamels mode. And this is pitching for a team that’s going nowhere. Imagine the extra gear he finds in the heat of a post-season race.
Hamels is a difference-maker, no doubt about it. A dominating pitcher in a market that will be thin on dominating pitchers.
Let the bidding war begin.
C.C. Sabathia (2-1, 2.40) vs. Doug Fister (1-4, 3,43)
Game time: 6:05