"I'm fine with not pitching [Sunday], because Game 1 is more important," Hamels said.
Hamels, who led the Phillies in innings and starter ERA (3.09) this season, will be making his second Game 1 start. Cooler temperatures may be beneficial.
Pitching on an unseasonably hot 81-degree afternoon last Oct. 3, Hamels wore a long-sleeved red T-shirt under his jersey. With the goal of keeping his pitching arm warm, the sleeves created a perspiration problem.
Moist hands affected the grip of his changeup and breaking ball, and the Rockies took control, plating three runs during a 40-pitch inning. Hamels removed the long sleeves after the frame, but it was too late in a 4-2 loss.
Recovering from that outing, Hamels turned in his most consistent season in 2008, and he stayed off the disabled list for the first time in his career.
Hamels started and lost Game 1 of the 2007 NLDS against the Rockies, the Phillies' first postseason appearance since 1993. He lasted 6 2/3 innings and surrendered three earned runs. The southpaw has allowed five or more earned runs just three times this season and none since May 31.
After Hamels, the Phillies could go with Brett Myers and Jamie Moyer for Games 2 and 3, respectively. Joe Blanton would pitch Game 4 and Hamels in Game 5, if necessary.
Hamels, by the numbers
|Here is how Phillies Game 1 starter Cole Hamels has fared at home, on the road, against the Brewers and in the postseason:|
|Home, 2008: 7-7, 2.99 ERA, 17 starts||
|Road, 2008: 7-3, 3.19 ERA, 16 starts||
|vs. Brewers, 2008: 1-1, 4.72 ERA, two starts||
|vs. Brewers, career: 2-1, 4.41 ERA, five starts||
|Postseason, career: 0-1, 4.05 ERA in one NLDS start||
|Did You Know? Hamels is married to former "Survivor contestant" Heidi Strobel.|
"We're not that far," manager Charlie Manuel said on the rotation after Myers.
Hamels faced the Brewers twice this season. On April 23 at Miller Park, he surrendered two home runs to Prince Fielder in a 5-4 loss, but he held them to two runs on Sept. 13, as part of a four-game sweep at Citizens Bank Park.
At 24, Hamels is already one of the game's best pitchers, with an effective fastball, curveball, devastating changeup and extreme confidence in his stuff.
With his ability to dominate every time he pitches, Hamels always wants the ball in big spots, and he wants to avenge last season.
"I want to be the guy to pitch in these games for our team, and hopefully bring home a win," Hamels said. "It's fun being the guy everybody looks to."