With the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ ace lefty Clayton Kershaw still on the sidelines watching, the Philadelphia Phillies‘ other ace lefty Cole Hamels finally made his 2014 season debut. Hamels has been on the disabled list since the start of the season with discomfort in his pitching arm and bicep tendinitis. After missing the first three weeks of the year, Hamels’ debut was an encouraging sign for the Fighting Phils.
Out in L.A., Hamels tossed six innings giving up six hits, two runs, and striking out five batters. Against a formidable lineup in his opening outing, it was enough to qualify for a quality start. It will also look to spark something in a Phillies team fighting to stay relevant within the NL East.
The Phillies are currently stuck below and around the .500 mark and chasing the Atlanta Braves in the division. With a predominantly older club, Philly needs Hamels to now stay healthy for the remainder of the season and help Cliff Lee carry the staff in order to have any chance at postseason play. If things do go south, the 2014 season could become a dismantling of the Phillies with likely only Hamels as one of the lone faces of the franchise left afterwards.
When trying to find a place to slot Hamels upon his return, Ryne Sandberg picked a good place in breaking up his two stud left-handers around righty A.J. Burnett. After his Opening Day start, Lee has been solid as usual for the Phillies. Now with Hamels back in the rotation, the Phillies rotation receives a much-needed boost going forward. Philadelphia must have Hamels and Lee become a dominating 1-2 punch, shut down oppositions, and hope for some run support if they hope to stay competitive this year.
It is a make-or-break season for the Phillies. Hamels’ return, at least for one night, helped throw it into a positive direction.
Nick Schaeflein is a Sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.