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Hamels in Perfect Spot for Rangers' Biggest Game of Season

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 23: Cole Hamels #35 of the Texas Rangers warms up prior to the start of the game against the Detroit Tigers on August 23, 2015 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

    This is why the Rangers traded for Cole Hamels. Same reason they acquired Cliff Lee in 2010.

    Big-game pitcher + big game = Yep, big expectations.

    As the Rangers begin their most important series of the season Monday night against the first-place Astros in Arlington, they’ll hand the ball to Hamels. Other than a healthy Yu Darvish, there’s no one else they’d rather have on the mound with the AL West on the line.

    Hamels is ready, having gone 3-0 with a 3.34 ERA in his last five starts. And he’s rested, with an extra day off in order to begin this Lone Star showdown.

    The Rangers’ play for Lee five summers ago worked almost perfectly, as he helped pitch them into the post-season and then won key playoff games against the Rays and Yankees to push them into their first World Series. Hamels has the exact potential.

    His control and devastating change-up are perfect for anxiety-ridden fall baseball. In 2008 with the Phillies he dominated the postseason, going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in winning the World Series MVP and leading Philadelphia to the championship.

    The Rangers are the hotter team, having gone 18-5 at Globe Life Park since that embarrassing 21-5 loss to the Yankees on July 28. And they’ve also got the better pitcher. In July the Astros traded for Scott Kazmir for the same big-game reasons as the Rangers traded for Hamels.

    I expect Hamels to go 7-plus innings tonight and pitch the Rangers to a win. And you have every right to share the same lofty expectations.

    A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.