Cole Hamels and Dontrelle Willis meet in a clash between outstanding young left-handers, as the Phillies and Marlins try to keep pace in the chase for the NL Wild Card.
If Ryan Howard deserves the most credit for keeping the Phillies hopes alive, then 22-year-old Cole Hamels (7-7, 4.33 ERA) gets the consolation prize. Check this out (from Press Pass):
• Hamels is 5-2 with a 2.58 ERA (15 ER, 52.1 IP) with a .209 opponents’ batting average in his last eight starts.
• He is averaging 9.5 SO/9.0 IP this season, and averaging 10.1 SO/9.0 IP in his last 10 starts (77 SO, 68.1 IP).
• He has pitched at least 6.0 innings in seven of his last eight starts. The lone exception was the cut finger game on Aug. 24.
• He has walked two batters or less in 15 of his 19 starts and in 12 straight starts, including just three walks in his last 37.0 innings.
If Hamels can keep his pitch count low, it would be wise to keep him in as long as possible. The bullpen is ragged and nobody seems to know the true status of closer Tom Gordon. Plus, Charlie Manuel doesn’t appear to have much of a game plan for how to use what’s left. Decent pitchers, like Geoff Geary and Ryan Madson, are running on fumes, and Manuel still refuses to use Fabio Castro in big spots, instead, opting for brutal Rhodes, who’s now out with a strained left elbow.
The Phillies have given Hamels lots of run support this season, and will go on the attack today against Dontrelle Willis (9-11, 3.93). The last time D-Train faced the Phillies, he gave up a season-high eight runs, six earned, and five hits in just 2 1-3 innings.