A.J. Burnett‘s strong outing Monday made him look like the ace he once was, but in the Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation Cole Hamels still offers the club its best chance to win when he takes the mound.
The Phillies took the series opener as Burnett turned around to dominate the Nationals and Hamels could have a similar result if he pitches Tuesday like he has been.
Hamels has won five of his last ten starts and hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in that time. His 2.53 ERA is fourth best in the National League though poor run support has limited him to a 7-6 record in 2014. Against the Nationals this season the ace has given up four runs, three of them earned, while recording 11 strikeouts.
Although Nationals’ outfielder Bryce Harper has a .320 batting average in 25 at bats against Hamels, he was kept out of Tuesday’s lineup. Instead, Scott Hairston was placed in left field with his .386 lifetime average against the Phillies ace. In 44 at bats, Hairston has five doubles and five home runs off Hamels with nine RBIs. Hamels has struck out Hairston 11 times.
Gio Gonzalez, who has been shaky of late, will oppose Hamels. Although his most recent start was for seven shutout innings, he has not won since July, 5th. Gonzalez took the loss the last time he faced Philadelphia, going 3.2 innings and allowing five runs on eight hits.
Cody Asche and Chase Utley are out of Tuesday’s lineup. Freddy Galvis will bat seventh and play second base. Andres Blanco will man third in place of Asche, hitting behind Galvis. Galvis and Blanco have a combined four hits lifetime against Gonzalez.