Cole Hamels is 10-2 with a 2.96 ERA in his last 14 starts at Citizens Bank Park. The Nationals counter with rookie Matt Chico, who leads their club with seven quality starts, including five in his last eight assignments.
Preview: Washington’s pregame press notes provided an interesting little history on tonight’s starters. Chico and Hamels square off for the first time in their baseball careers, despite playing for a pair of North San Diego County high schools (they never faced each other in the minors as well). Chico played his high school ball at Fallbrook, while Hamels played at Rancho Bernardo under head coach Sam Blalock, who is the father of Hank Blalock. According to Sam Blalock’s records, Chico faced the RB Broncos just once in his high school career: in a tournament game as a senior on April 12, 2000. Hamels, a junior in 2000, was out with a broken arm.
OK. So maybe it's not that interesting. So who is this -- how you say -- "Chico?" Chico (4-6, 4.68 ERA), who came over from the Diamondbacks in the Livan Hernandez deal, won a job in spring training despite a pedestrian minor league track record and no experience above Double-A. So far, so good. Among rookies, he ranks second in ERA, second in innings (108.1), third in strikeouts (59) and second in batting average against (.275). According to one report, he’ll throw a two-seam and four-seam fastball which sits in the low 90s, a curveball and a changeup.
For the Phillies, Hamels (11-5, 3.68 ERA) is looking for a win after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Chris Young and the Padres.