Game 3 of the World Series is tonight, as Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies takes on Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees.
It’s his arm, or it’s not. It’s his mechanics, or it’s not. It’s his command or his choices or the hitters or the workload or the decisions he made last offseason. Or it’s not.
Hamels goes through them all, runs them through his head, sleeps on them, ices an elbow that was sore in spring, and then goes out and gives up four runs in 5 1/3 innings. He throws harder, then softer, then smarter and he’s sure he’s gaining on it, and then he looks around to find runners on base.
He hates it, of course. He didn’t come here to be average, even below average, to be the guy they give the ball to and then have everybody take two steps back to cover the gaps. He came here to throw 260 innings and win 18 games and be the World Series MVP, which pretty much describes April through October 2008.