Phils downplay Hamels' cutter tendency

Phils downplay Hamels' cutter tendency

PHILADELPHIA -- Cole Hamels has a 5.06 ERA after two starts, so people are looking for possible answers.

Here is one: Could he be cutter happy?

Scouts told both the Philadelphia Daily News and that Hamels, who starts Sunday against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park, is throwing cutters at the expense of his curveball, which could be hurting him. Not surprisingly, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and pitching coach Rich Dubee disagreed.

"It's about fastball command," Amaro said. "If he gets to the point where he's throwing his fastball to the right spots and he's creating his angle, he'll be fine."

"You pitch with what you've got on a given day," Dubee said. "[April 7] in Washington, he didn't throw a curveball for a strike. So why are you going to continue to throw it? To get behind deeper in counts? The other day, he threw seven of them. He threw three for strikes, four for balls. You can't continue to throw a pitch if you're not throwing it in the strike zone and you're deep in counts already."

Dubee said if Hamels is throwing more cutters, it is because he has better control of the pitch., which receives its pitching data from Baseball Info Solutions, said 12.3 percent of Hamels' pitches have been cutters and 5.7 percent of his pitches have been curveballs. In the previous three seasons, Hamels threw anywhere from 10.1 percent to 13.2 percent curveballs.

"Some people that watch the game don't know the difference between a curveball and a changeup," Dubee said. "I'll tell you that right now."

Regardless of the numbers, Dubee made a point early in Spring Training to say that he wanted Hamels to focus on the curveball and work on the cutter later in camp. But Hamels worked on both equally in Spring Training and seemed to like throwing the cutter.

"He commands it pretty good in the bullpen," Dubee said of Hamels' curveball. "It's a matter of getting over that hump and trusting it. It's like any pitch -- you don't have a whole lot of recall on. He's got a tremendous recall on his changeup because he's gotten a number of people out on his changeup. How do you build confidence in something? You throw it effectively. As you get results, the confidence grows."

Trust is huge. Dubee pointed out that Roy Halladay learned a new changeup grip this spring and threw 14 of them Sunday in his complete-game victory over Houston. Halladay threw Carlos Lee a beautiful 3-2 changeup in the first inning at Minute Maid Park.

Lee swung and missed to end the inning.

"[Halladay] has confidence he can throw anything at any given time," Dubee said. "That's commitment. That's trust."