What seemed obvious for weeks is finally official: Cole Hamels will start for the Phillies on Opening Day when the Phillies take on the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta on April 1. After signing a long-term contract to pitch for the Phillies, Hamels finally takes his place at the top of the Phillies rotation, Todd Zolecki reports:
Cole Hamels has been named the Phillies' 2013 Opening Day starter. Not a surprise. Been on track for that for weeks.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) March 14, 2013
Back in February, Roy Halladay endorsed Hamels for the Opening Day honor:
He deserves that and I think that’s the way it should be,” Halladay said after throwing to hitters for the final time before he makes his first Grapefruit League start on Sunday. “It’s his time. It should have been his spot a long time ago. It’s time for him to establish himself as the head of the staff.
Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee had also previously indicated that pitching righty Roy Halladay between left-handers Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee would give the Phillies the best rotation:
“I think it’s how we line up best,” Dubee said. “Realistically, we could pitch anybody the first day as far as Doc, Cole and Cliff. On most staffs, they are No. 1 starters, so they all could pitch opening day. But part of what we’re thinking is trying to split those two lefties. Last year we started with two lefties (after Halladay) and I’d just like to split them up".
Since Hamels joined the major league staff, Brett Myers has three Opening Day starts and Roy Halladay two. As the fourth starter, Kyle Kendrick will likely pitch at the Phillies' home opener on April 5 against the Royals.