The Philadelphia Phillies made it clear last season that Cole Hamels was a pivotal piece of the organization’s future.
By inking the 29-year-old lefty to a six-year, $144 million contract extension prior to the 2012 trade deadline, the Phillies affirmed that Hamels was a player they wanted to build around.
That’s why it was no surprise that on Thursday the Phillies named Hamels the Opening Day starter.
That’s not shocking at all.
What is shocking is the fact that Hamels has never started Opening Day.
Even after being named the World Series MVP in 2008, Hamels was slotted behind Brett Myers, who was making his third straight Opening Day start.
Since Myers’ departure, it’s been Roy Halladay for three straight Opening Days — and he’s a big reason why the Phillies have won three consecutive openers.
Now, it’s Hamels’ turn to keep the streak going, and he certainly deserves it.
He led the Phillies in 2012 with a 17-6 record and a 3.05 ERA after going 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA in 2011. In his seven years, he’s 91-60 with a 3.34 ERA.
“I’ve never really thought about it,” Hamels said last month on MLB.com. “It’s one game, one appearance and then you’re back into the normal baseball atmosphere. I’ve never really looked at it as this big sort of ordeal. I’ve always valued the playoffs.”
If that’s the case, he’ll love his Opening Day matchup.
With the Phillies undoubtedly having to battle the Nationals and the Braves for the National League East crown in 2013, it’s perfect that Hamels will open against the Braves on April 1. The 7:10 p.m. first pitch at Turner Field will be the first of a three-game series that could set the table for one of the two teams.
The two NL East foes will share an off day on April 2 before continuing their series on April 3 where it can be assumed that Halladay will get the start.
Cliff Lee should be on the mound for the series finale on April 4.
Often times, you may see the fourth starter slide in to allow a pitcher like Lee pitch the home opener, but considering the opponent, the Phillies should start the season with its three aces against the Braves.
That means Kyle Kendrick should pitch the home opener against the Kansas City Royals.Tags: braves, brett myers, charlie manual, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, MLB, opening day, Phillies, Roy Halladay, starter