Today's Matchup: Milwaukee (Fiers) vs. Philadelphia (Hamels)

Aug 17, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun (8) rounds the bases past Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (6) after hitting a 2-run home run in the sixth inning at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

Six years, $144 million. That's the contract the Phillies signed lefty Cole Hamels (13-6, 2.91) to in late July. Based on his last couple of seasons, it looks like he might be worth every penny.

Hamels has been one of the best pitchers in the league this season, with a 3.46 FIP to go along with his 2.91 ERA, an ERA which puts him 14th in all of Major League Baseball. He is striking out 8.89 hitters per nine innings while walking just 2.25. He was better last season, when he had a 2.79 ERA, a 3.05 FIP, an 8.08 K/9 and a 1.83 BB/9. Overall, in a seven year career, Hamels has a 3.34 ERA and 3.61 FIP.

As good as Hamels has been, the Brewers are even more unfortunate to catch him on a big August hot streak. He has pitched complete game shutouts each of his last two outings after allowing two earned runs in seven innings three starts ago. Those followed a July slump, by Hamels' standards. That month, he started four games and had a 4.23 ERA. However, even in his bad starts he pitches deep into ballgames. Of his five starts where he has allowed at least four earned runs, he has pitched eight innings once (4 ER), 7.2 innings once (5 ER) seven innings once (4 ER), 6.2 innings once (5 ER), and six innings once (6 ER). In fact, he has thrown fewer than six innings in a start just twice this season and is averaging just over 108 pitches per outing.

Hamels is basically a two pitch pitcher as he predominately just throws a 91 MPH four-seamer (51%) and an 84 MPH change-up (29%). He has faced four current Brewers at least ten times. Here is how they have fared:

Player PA Line
Corey Hart 28 .250/.250/.464
Ryan Braun 25 .167/.200/.458
Rickie Weeks 23 .105/.261/.211
Aramis Ramirez 17 .250/.294/.563

Opposing Hamels will be Mike Fiers (6-5, 2.63), who is coming off his first truly bad start of his career. Against the Rockies, Fiers lasted just two innings and allowed eight earned runs--twice as many as he had in any start before then. Those runs came on nine hits as Fiers kept giving Colorado pitches to hit. His control wasn't bad--he didn't walk a single batter. He just wasn't getting hitters to miss. It will be interesting and, perhaps, somewhat important to see how he comes back after a poor start.

Fiers has never faced the Phillies.


In the bullpen:

Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (11) yesterday.
Livan Hernandez pitched one inning (23) yesterday.

Manny Parra
pitched .1 innings (12 pitches) Thursday.
Jose Veras pitched two innings (45 pitches) Thursday.
Jim Henderson pitched .2 innings (12 pitches) Thursday.
John Axford pitched .2 innings (8 pitches) on Wednesday.
Mike McClendon last pitched on Monday.
Kameron Loe last pitched on Sunday.

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