ST. PETERSBURG -- Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels is 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA this postseason and is coming off an MVP performance in the National League Championship Series.
Now, he really is stepping on to the big stage against Rays left-hander Scott Kazmir in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.
And the youngster is not fazed about pitching in his first World Series.
"See, I think that's the thing that as a player you don't look at," Hamels said on Tuesday before the Phillies worked out in the dome. "Outside, there's significance with the game that we're playing. For us, the World Series is something that you look back on, not when you're playing in it. It's something that I think I will cherish probably 10 years from now, and then [I'll remember] what was going on, what I was thinking, who I was playing, what results I had."
So far, the results have been pretty impressive.
The Phils eliminated the Dodgers in five NLCS games, with Hamels winning two of them: Game 1 at Philadelphia and Game 5 at Dodger Stadium. He also won the opener of their NL Division Series against the Brewers at Citizens Bank Park.
Hamels never faltered in any of the three games once the Phillies gave him the lead, particularly in the NLCS finale, when he was staked to a 5-0 advantage and worked seven solid innings of five-hit, one-run ball with the only run coming on a Manny Ramirez homer.
Hamels has walked six, whiffed 22 and allowed only 13 hits in his 22 innings of postseason work.
Allowed 18 HR in 85 IP since All-Star (incl. playoffs)
Ready for his close-up
Seeking Game 5 repeat
Those numbers came after he had a 14-10 regular season with a 3.09 ERA.
It's the kind of performances Phils manager Charlie Manuel has come to expect out of the 24-year-old Hamels this year.
"First of all, this year Cole Hamels has been very consistent," Manuel said. "This is the most he's ever pitched. And I hear people [say] he only won 14 games, but don't ever let that sell him short. Every time he walks out on the mound I expect him to win a game. He's definitely capable of shutting a team out. He's capable of throwing no-hitters. Every time he goes out I look for this guy to throw a good game and put us in a place to win the game. And usually he's been very consistent with that."
Hamels and Kazmir are both products of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft. Kazmir, who was born in Houston, was drafted 15th overall by the Mets, and Hamels, a San Diego native, was picked 17th by the Phillies.
The Phillies, of course, kept Hamels, while the Mets traded Kazmir to Tampa Bay in the July 30, 2004, non-waiver Deadline deal that netted New York the noted Victor Zambrano.
As big leaguers, Hamels (38-23) and Kazmir (47-37) have remained on similar tracks and both have developed a healthy respect for each other.
"We were always compared through high school as top-round picks. Through that, you kind of get to know a guy, not on a personal level, but on a level of respect," Hamels said about Kazmir. "He's a tremendous pitcher. I don't know about his hitting; he's playing in the American League. But he's a good guy and he has a competitive spirit that is one of the best."
Three times, a charm
Since the start of League Division Series play in 1995, three pitchers have won three Game 1's (LDS, LCS, WS) in the same postseason
Kazmir, also 24, was equally as gracious about Hamels.
"Seems like we were pretty much in every single league going through the ranks," Kazmir said. "I got to see quite a bit of him and kind of follow his career a little bit. Just because he's another left-hander, you just see what he's doing and see what's working for him and maybe you can use that in your game. And I've seen a lot of him. He's a great pitcher."
Now at this stage of their young careers, they'll be battling against each other in the World Series.
"When you play 10, 15 years and never make the World Series, then this kind of stage can be either more burdening or it can be more exciting," Hamels said. "For me, because I played three years, been in the playoffs twice, World Series once, I think it's kind of a normal thing, and I hope it is. But I still have to go out there and get the job done."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.