I think I've learned a lot from every start this season. I'm accumulating knowledge from each start to the next and moving from there.
I like to adjust as I get into the game. I see what's working that day and go with it. It's always a benefit having three-plus pitches, especially if you're able use them all effectively. If you have at least three pitches you can throw for strikes, you'll be in position to succeed more often than not.
You also make adjustments with each hitter. For me, it's a matter of remembering each hitter and each at-bat. It's about noticing those small adjustments from the hitter and countering with something that's more effective.
Because my style is different than the four other starting pitchers, I have to rely more on what I see and what my catcher sees. Sometimes I ask Jamie Moyer or Adam Eaton what they see, just to get another perspective.
I've been healthy so far, which makes a big difference for me. I work hard to keep my body strong and prepared for every start, and this season I really feel the benefit of being healthy and in good shape.
Last year at this time, my back was aching. I knew every day that I had to get my workouts in, and it was something I was always thinking about. This year, I don't have to think about it; I just go out there and play. It's really helped.
I try to keep increasing my workload every day during the week so my body and arm can get used to more stress. I liken my workouts to the ones that Japanese pitchers use. I remember reading something about how Bobby Valentine said his pitchers in Japan want to throw 200 pitches in a bullpen. I can't do that much, but I think there's a benefit to grinding every day.
I probably throw longer than most guys. I do more long toss and throw 10 to 20 more pitches in my bullpens. Of course I'm only 23, so I can do that.
I don't lift weights much or try to build any muscle during the season. In fact, I always end up losing weight. I think I lose about 10 pounds every season. I can only gain weight in the offseason by working out. If I turn into a powerlifter, I wouldn't be able to lift a baseball. I guess it's OK to be skinny.
I've had some good numbers this year, but I have to give a lot of credit to our offense. The team has been leading the league in runs scored. That kind of output gives me more confidence on the mound, because there's less pressure on you if you give up a run or two. It still matters if you're concerned about your ERA, but getting a win is the key. With the guys I have playing defense behind me, I can do both.
Cole Hamels, 23, is 13-5 with a 3.64 ERA. He is third in the National League with 150 strikeouts through his first 24 starts. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound left-hander made 23 starts last season, finishing 9-8 with a 4.08 ERA.
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