By SAMUEL BOTWINICK | Staff Writer
April 23, 2014, 4:30 p.m.
With Ryan Howard starting to hit again, Chase Utley remaining hot, and Cliff Lee dominating early on; each one filling their respective roles on the team, Hamels might be the missing link in helping the Phillies making one potential final run at the playoffs, and possibly beyond.
The southpaw is making his season debut tonight against a great opponent, Zack Greinke (3-0, 2.42 ERA), and a polished hitting team in the Dodgers. Hamels is 3-0, with a 2.22 ERA in four career starts at Dodger Stadium. Greinke and the Dodgers will be a good test early on in his comeback to see whether he has fully recovered from his injury.
Right before this Spring Training, after Manager Ryne Sandberg and the Phillies were praying and preaching for no injuries to occur, the one problem with the biggest potential impact on the Phillies happened. The star ace left hander, Hamels, had discovered that he had shoulder tendinitis, and therefore couldn't participate in his usual winter conditioning program.
After missing the first three weeks of the regular season, and after three successful minor league rehab starts, in which he posted a 2.12 ERA in 17 innings, the Phillies had enough faith in him that he could be a productive contributor on the mound for them.
Only direct results on the field tonight and beyond will show if the Phillies made the proper decision.