Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hamels Returns to Form

It's been a trying exhibition season for Phillies fans. We know that wins and losses don't matter in the Grapefruit League, but when the pitching looks terrible and the losses mount, a sense of doubt about the team begins to creep in. Even laid-back Charlie Manuel has been so unimpressed by the way the team has played that he called the players out, imploring them to show more effort. The starting pitching, one of the main concerns for Manuel and the Phillies, looked like it heeded that call in today's 4-2 win over the Rays.

Cole Hamels was one of the most disappointing players this spring. He had gotten hit hard this exhibition season, and even sported an ERA in the double digits at one point. Hamels finally turned things around today, looking sharp in 6 innings of work, striking out seven batters and giving up only two hits. Of course, one of the hits was a home run by Rays rookie Evan Longoria (not the desperate houswife, the young star), but Hamels is prone to giving up the long ball from time to time. Hamels spring ERA now sits at 6.55, showing just how bad it was before.

Up until today, Brett Myers had been the only starting pitcher to look dominant this spring. Hamels looks like he is rounding into form, and you know Jamie Moyer will be his usual self. That leaves two other rotation spots to be worried about: Kyle Kendrick and the dreaded number 5 spot. I have talked ad nausea about the number 5 starter, but that situation is not any closer to being resolved. The Kendrick situation also should make Phillies fans nervous. This is a pitcher with no real track record of success that is being relied upon to be the number 3 starter. It could be a disastrous season for the Phillies if Kendrick doesn't pitch like he did last season.

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