Hamels hopes to peak as postseason nears
New York (62-78) at Philadelphia (79-59), 7:05 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON -- The Phillies have 24 games to play, which means that Cole Hamels could have five more starts before the postseason.
He hopes to be hitting his peak at about that time.
Hamels, who starts the series opener against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, had back-to-back scoreless starts -- on Aug. 26 against Pittsburgh and on Sept. 1 against San Francisco -- but he allowed four runs in six innings on Sunday against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
That outing aside, Hamels has pitched better recently, and the Phillies hope that is a sign of things to come, because they would love to have left-hander Cliff Lee and Hamels -- the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner and World Series Most Valuable Player, respectively -- pitching their best for the first-round, best-of-five NL Division Series.
Hamels is 1-2 with a 2.65 ERA in his past five starts, and he has allowed 30 hits, 10 runs, nine walks and struck out 24 in his past 30 innings. Opponents have hit .238 against him. Compare that with his first 22 starts this season, when he went 7-7 with a 4.77 ERA, the fifth-highest ERA in the NL at the time. Opponents were hitting .283 against him.
Believe it or not, the lowly Mets could be a test for Hamels, as he is 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA against them in two starts this season.Pitching matchup
PHI: LHP Cole Hamels (8-9, 4.32 ERA)
Hamels has struggled against the Mets, entering Friday's game with a 1-4 record and a 4.50 ERA in eight starts against them. He has given up 63 hits and 24 earned runs in 63 innings vs. New York. NYM: RHP Nelson Figueroa (2-4, 4.74 ERA)
Facing the same opponent he had beaten six days earlier, Figueroa produced decidedly different results on Saturday. The Cubs managed merely one run and struck out 10 times in seven innings against him on Aug. 30 at Wrigley Field, but in a more pitcher-friendly setting, he allowed four runs -- on a pair of two-run homers -- in six innings and lost at Citi Field. He struck out eight, two fewer than his career high, and walked two, but he wasn't nearly as sharp as he had been in Chicago. Now he faces the Phillies in their smallish park. He has opposed them twice in relief this season -- pitching 3 1/3 innings and allowing two runs -- and he threw one other inning against them, in 2006. His ERA in 13 2/3 innings on the road this season is 1.32. Tidbits
Left-hander Scott Eyre underwent an MRI on Wednesday in Philadelphia. The exam revealed a "loose body" in his left elbow that has been causing sharp pain when he throws. Because Eyre had dye injected into his arm, he will not be able to pitch for a few days. "Obviously, we're considering different courses of treatment at this point," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "He will be unavailable for the next few days. ... We have not made a decision on how to proceed at this point." Eyre is 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA in 39 appearances this season. ... Left-hander J.C. Romero (strained left forearm) and right-hander Clay Condrey (strained right oblique) continue to work out in Philadelphia, but there are no updates on their timetables to return. Tickets
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Saturday: Phillies (Jamie Moyer, 12-9, 4.98) vs. Mets (Mike Pelfrey, 10-10, 4.83), 4:05 p.m. ET
Sunday, Game 1: Phillies (Kyle Kendrick, 0-1, 5.06) vs. Mets (Tim Redding, 2-5, 5.78), 1:05 p.m. ET
Sunday, Game 2: Phillies (Pedro Martinez, 4-0, 3.64) vs. Mets (John Maine, 5-4, 4.52), 8:05 p.m. ET
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.