In a surprise move, right-hander Brett Myers will get the ball when the Phils open their season March 31 against the Nationals, setting up a possible slate of marquee, nighttime match-ups for Cole Hamels.
Beerleaguer: Some will say this is a way to "reward" Myers for accepting a return to the rotation, or a way to put his mind at ease. It's not. It's about Hamels pitching the big games, at night, when he's at his statistical best, and handing it to Myers for the lesser ones. By moving Hamels back, they set him up with a slate of night-time starts the entire month of April, weather permitting, while Myers, who's trying to readjust to the rotation, draws a couple favorable match-ups later on, including Friday, April 11, which looks like it will be against Chicago's fifth starter.
Now the match-up part for Hamels, if it all goes to plan. By doing this, it sets up a possible Hamels vs. Carlos Zambrano duel Saturday, April 12 if they don't shorten their rotation. Then the big one: a possible Friday, April 18 date between Hamels and Johan Santana, at home, under the lights. That's if Santana is named as the opening day starter. Looking way into the future, the schedule sets up with Hamels penciled in for an April 23 date with Milwaukee's No. 1 Ben Sheets, followed by an April 29 duel, at home, against Jake Peavy and the Padres, although it may be wishful thinking by then.
In other words, they're handing the ball to the wrong guy opening day so they have a chance to hand it to the right one the rest of the month.