With the All-Star Game less than a month away, it's not too early to ponder who could be the starting pitcher for the National League. The Phillies have two candidates, one of which (Cole Hamels) is on the hill tonight in the opener of a four-game set vs. Florida.
Here is a quickie glance at some of the candidates to start the game, though obviously a lot can change between now and the Midsummer Classic on July 11:
Roy Halladay (9-3, 2.39 ERA) - Halladay leads the league in wins and ranks second in ERA. He leads the NL with 105 1/3 innings and four complete games. The reigning Cy Young winner is also sixth in WHIP and leads the league in K/BB ratio. If WAR is your kind of stat, Halladay is the clear NL leader at 4.2, well ahead of Hamels (3.3) and Jurrjens (2.8).
Cole Hamels (8-2, 2.58 ERA) - Hamels was rocked in his season debut, giving up six runs in 2 2/3 innings vs. the Mets. Since that outing, the lefty is 8-1 with a 2.05 ERA in a dozen starts. He can tie Halladay for the league lead with nine wins tonight. On the year, Hamels ranks fourth in the NL in ERA, fifth in strikeouts, second in K/BB ratio, eighth in innings pitched, and first in WHIP.
Jair Jurrjens (8-2, 1.82) - You could definitely argue that Jurrjens, not Halladay or Hamels, has been the NL's best pitcher this season. The Atlanta right-hander has only made 11 starts, but he has yielded two earned runs or fewer in 10 of them. He leads the league in ERA and ranks fourth in K/BB ratio. His WHIP is second, behind only Hamels.
Other candidates - Braves righty Tommy Hanson is really coming into his own, posting an 8-4 record with a 2.48 ERA and a startling .189 opponents' average. Milwaukee's Shaun Marcum (7-2, 2.68) and Mets rookie Dillon Gee (7-0, 3.05) are potential sleepers.
Tonight's lineup: Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Polanco, Ibanez, Brown, Ruiz and Hamels will face Chris Volstad, who is 0-5 with a 5.60 ERA in his last eight starts overall. In his last five starts against the Phils, the big righty is 0-2 with a 6.33 ERA.