Only one other guy in Hamels’ and Price’s class
Found this article in the SF Chronicle today by Bruce Jenkins – Gotta love the Lincecum love.
Tim Lincecum was the Giants’ best pitcher from the moment he signed a contract. They didn’t mean to rush him to the big leagues, but they couldn’t help themselves. Sometimes, there’s just no need to wait.
Which is a roundabout way of explaining our dream matchup in the Phillies-Rays World Series: Cole Hamels versus David Price.
Price is the Rays’ Lincecum. If you projected their rotation into next season, you might not even find a place for him (Edwin Jackson, who tied for the staff lead with 14 wins, hasn’t made a start in October). Manager Joe Maddon knows the truth, though. That’s why he asked Price to close out the Boston Red Sox in a harrowing, Game 7 situation. Price came back to finish off Game 2 against the Phillies on Thursday night, casually retiring Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to end it.
What separates the Rays from the Giants is depth. Maddon could come back with the same starting pitchers next season, continuing to use Price as some sort of secret weapon, without a complaint from anyone. We’ve all seen the truth, though. Price is 6-foot-7 with a howling fastball and a world-class slider. Left-handed hitters consider it a triumph if they merely make solid contact.
In May ’07, Price was pitching for Vanderbilt in the NCAA regionals. Less than six weeks ago, he was in the minor leagues. But he’s Lincecum, known throughout the clubhouse for having the team’s best stuff. Short reliever? That’s quite a luxury.
We won’t see Price against Hamels, and at this stage of his young career, that might be a break for Price. Hamels’ postseason record speaks for itself (4-0, 1.55), but it’s the visual image that really counts for this 24-year-old lefty. A Philadelphia Daily News headline wondered, “Is there anyone as cool as Cole Hamels?”, and it’s a damned good question.
Just for fun, we went through The Great Book of Stuff to check every pitcher who started a World Series game over the last 50 years. This is a highly subjective argument, but for pure style, we’re saying Hamels belongs in the same company with Warren Spahn, Juan Marichal, Luis Tiant, Jim Palmer, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd. The second tier might include the likes of Tom Glavine, Fernando Valenzuela, Don Sutton, Bill Lee (highly personal choice) and Don Drysdale (mean as hell, but the most stylish sidearmer in memory).
So who’s the only active pitcher who combines Price’s talent and Hamels’ style? Right back to Lincecum.