Tim Hudson signed a 4-year, $47 million extension last spring to become Atlanta’s next generation ace. So far, it hasn’t worked out, and there are strong signs the 31-year-old is on the decline. He faces Cole Hamels and the Phillies tonight at Citizen's Bank Park.
Hudson is still a good pitcher, but at 31, he’s only a shadow of the spectacular kid who used to give the Athletics eight or nine innings on a regular basis. The right-hander stands in with a 7-8 record and 4.95 ERA and has allowed four or more runs in eight consecutive outings.
Stepping back before last season: It’s Billy Beane’s pattern to ride starting pitching before they get too expensive, but in Hudson’s case, Oakland was already getting concerned about his health. With the Braves last season, he missed a month with a strained oblique and finished 14-9 with a 3.52 ERA. That's about as good as what Brett Myers did. The big problem: He doubled up his career high in home runs allowed with 20, and also walked a career-high 65. This season, he’s already given up 13 longballs and 44 walks.
Tonight, the Phils counter with Cole Hamels (2-4, 5.36 ERA) whose big problem has been getting behind too many hitters. He’s been sharp with his strikeouts, but has had trouble getting through 6 innings because of his high pitch counts.
Chase Utley will look to increase his quiet hitting streak to 24 games, which is the longest in the majors.
Red-hot David Bell is 6-for-8 this series (.750) and has his own 7-game hitting streak on the line. He's hitting .400 (30-75) in his last 19 games.
The Phillies will go with two bench players tonight. Shane Victorino gets the start in center field. David Dellucci replaces Pat Burrell in left.