The Phillies were fortunate to eek out a win in last night’s opener, needing 10 innings to finish off the lowly Marlins. Despite Miami’s horrid start, the Phils gave them every opportunity to take hold of the game leaving guys on base all night. All’s well that ends well and the team is now back to .500. Can the club make it four straight wins? The answer to that question relies a great deal on tonight’s pitching matchup.
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Cole Hamels (0-2, 10.97 ERA)
Of all the paranoid fears about this Phillies team entering the season did any of them involve a bad Cole Hamels? We all knew Halladay would be a work in progress, and who knew how Utely and Howard would do over the long hall, but Hamels struggles have come out of nowhere. For a team so reliant on quality starting pitching, a rough two outings by Cole to start the season is flat out scary. What’s plagued Hamels in the early going is the long ball. He’s already served up four taters and given up 13 earned in just over 10 innings. These numbers have to come down sometime, but somewhere underneath Hamel’s cool calm Cali exterior is a heap of frustration. Thankfully, Hamels is going up against a Marlins team that couldn’t hit a long ball off a wiffle-ball tee. If Hamels can’t get into a groove against this lineup feel free to panic.
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Jose Fernandez (0-0, 1.80 ERA)
Fresh off his major league debut, the young 20-year old Cuban native finds himself in a position many didn’t expect to see for quite some time. Most experts thought the young righty was a year or so off, but with the Marlins roster in such shambles Fernandez finds himself in Miami’s rotation. Fernandez has perpetuated the stereotype that all Cubans are good at baseball by fanning 8 Mets hitters in his debut. At just 20 years of age he’s got the stuff to make it in the bigs, but appears to be well beyond most pitchers his age with the poise and control of a veteran. One start is hardly enough to get a complete reading on the kid, but the Phillies should be patient with him at the plate. Expect his first time through the league to be just as dominant as his debut, but like all young players his long term success will be predicated on his ability to adjust once hitters have figured him out.
The Phillies will be getting their first look at Fernandez, so it’s anyone’s guess how they’ll hit against the young Cuban. Expect Charlie to stack the lineup with lefties, particularly with the Marlins only featuring one lefty out of the pen.
Hamels has been hurt the most by Giancarlo Stanton and Casey Kotchmen in his career, but neither figures to be in the lineup due to injuries. If Hamels is able to locate his fastball early in the game just sit back and enjoy a vintage Cole Hamels outing. I’d put the over/under at 8 K’s, but you’ll have to find your own book maker since TBOH doesn’t condone that sort of thing (loud coughing).