Phillies’ ace Cole Hamels continues to mature

Philadelphia Phillies’ ace Cole Hamels will start in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers Thursday night. And as the Philadelphia Inquirer points out, the 24-year old pitcher learned in his one postseason start last year that the playoffs are a different animal than the regular season.

Cole HamelsBut talent isn’t enough in the playoffs, which Hamels realized last season when he walked an uncharacteristic four batters and allowed three runs in his postseason debut against the Rockies. In front of a packed house, with a nip in the air, and the realization that every pitch can hasten the end of a season, the psychology of the game can change.

The X-factor is to harness that change. And, ultimately, to ignore it.

Hamels admitted that in the past he has allowed the emotions of pitching in a big game to affect him. But in Game 1 of the NLDS last Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park, he pitched one of the finest games of his career. He threw eight scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one walk. He struck out nine.

Hamels attributes the success to a peace of mind he achieved through his workout routine.

“I think when [I’m] so focused on making myself feel healthy and feel strong, then you don’t really think about the game as much,” he said. “You just think about trying to be in the best possible shape I can be in…I think that’s taken a lot of my thought processes away from all the games I had during the season…And I think it’s helped me right now, because I want to be that guy that can go out there into the postseason and have success. And I think the success for me is not necessarily what’s on the scoreboard, but feeling healthy, because I know if I do feel healthy I can help this team out.”

I hope this kid succeeds. He’s got a great head on his shoulders and you can tell in his comments that he respects himself and respects the game. It’s incredibly hard for young players to perform on the postseason stage when they’ve never been there before, but succeeding in the playoffs is what great players do.

Can’t wait to check out Hamels vs. Manny Ramirez.

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