Last Thursday, in a sparkling 12-strikeout gem against St. Louis, Cole Hamels finally showed why the Phillies believe he has limitless potential. The young left-hander tries to make it three wins in a row tonight against Atlanta.
Here's an nice stat from the Elias Sports Bureau, courtesy of the Phils' press notes: Over the last 10 years, only three rookie pitchers have had two, 12-strikeout or more performances over the span of two weeks: Kerry Wood, Mark Prior and Cole Hamels.
On second thought, maybe it's better not to be grouped with that pair.
Colbert M. Hamels (4-5, 5.27 ERA) has indeed piled on the strikeouts (83) since his call-up, averaging 10.3 per 9 innings, which puts him near the front of starting pitchers in the National League. The problem has been his command and untimely long balls. Both areas have improved recently.
On the opposite side, Tim Hudson (8-10, 5.22 ERA) goes for Atlanta, a pitcher and team that no longer scare you. This is another good opportunity to pick up some ground in the NL Wild Card.
Team offense rising
The Phillies offense now ranks in the NL top 4 in several categories: runs (3rd, 573); RBIs (4th, 544); HRs (3rd, 148); SLG (4th, .444); OBP (4th, .340).
Individually, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are hogging up the league lead in several categories, including home runs (Howard, 39), RBIs (Howard, 101), hits (Utley, 147), and runs (Utley, 94).