Today's Pitching Matchup: Cole Hamels (LHP, Phillies) vs. Kenshin Kawakami (RHP, Braves)
It's easy to look at Cole Hamels' stellar 2008 and forget that for much of his career he's been dogged by the dreaded label of "injury-prone". But that label is not an uncommon one among young pitchers, especially ones that have endured the heavy workload that Hamels bore last season (223 1/3 IP, not including playoffs). Though he's spent some time on the disabled list this season, Hamels has performed admirably (128 1/3 IP, 111 K, 27 BB, 41% GB rate). There is some cause for concern, as he's on a three-year downward trend in strikeouts per nine (9.9, 8.7, 7.8).
There's little good that can be said about what Hamels' opponent, Kenshin Kawakami, has done this season (118 IP, 84 K, 49 BB). If Kawakami can outperform Hamels on Saturday, it will be huge not only for the Braves' postseason hopes but for Kawakami's hopes of remaining in the rotation. On August 13th, Tim Hudson pitched four innings against AAA Durham (Tampa Bay), striking out three, walking one, and giving up five hits in four innings pitched.