This past weekend was one of the more bizarre and unpredictable in recent memory of following the Phillies. Now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and both the Saturday and Sunday games being canceled, the Phils will get back on the field after a pair of strange off days. It's the kind of break in a baseball season we only really ever see around the All-Star break (but not quite as long, obviously).
But not only will the Phillies be getting back to action for the first time since their loss to the Marlins on Friday night, Cole Hamels (13-7, 2.62) will be starting for the first time in 17 days. Will Hamels return to form after an extended rest or will the fatigue he mentioned after that poor showing against the Nationals on Auguest 12th linger?
Jim Salisbury goes so far as to say, "You could make a case that this is the most important start that any Phillies pitcher has made this season."
If I had to guess how Hamels bounces back, I think he'll respond well based on what he said in the clubhouse following that less-than-stellar outing against the Nationals coupled with what Rich Dubee said following his most recent bullpen session.
The Inquirer's Boop Stats adds that Hamels couldn't be returning against a better team. Despite them having a stacked lineup, Hamels career numbers against Cincy are fantastic.
Including the 2010 playoffs and his one appearance against earlier this season, he is 8-0, 1.23 ERA in nine starts and has held them to a .168 batting average.
Hamels will take on a Reds team that has been playing good ball lately, winners of 4 straight and 6 of their last 7. Right-hander Homer Bailey (7-5, 4.44) will start tonight for Cincinnati.
Even with the right-hander on the mound for the Reds, Charlie Manuel is going with John Mayberry Jr. in left field. Is this more telling of Raul Ibanez's groin still being a little sensitive or Mayberry's real solid play of late?
Tonight's Lineup vs. Cincy: Victorino, Polanco, Utley, Howard, Pence, Mayberry, Ruiz, Valdez, and Hamels.
Transaction: With Hamels coming off the DL today to make his start tonight, Pete Orr was sent down to make room on the roster.
7:10 start time from Cin-city. All eyes on Cole.