With Cole Hamels recovering from bicep tendonitis, it has been long assumed that Cliff Lee would be the Opening Day starter. Today, the Phillies have officially have announced that this assumption is to be fact. As long as Cliff Lee has been considered an ace, this will only be Lee’s second opening day start. Last year, Cliff Lee led the Phillies with 14-8 record along with a 2.87 ERA in 222.2 innings and struck out batters at a rate of nine batters per nine innings.
In an interview today on MLB.com by Todd Zolecki, Cliff Lee said, “I’m ready to go. It’s coming on us pretty quick. Ryne Sandberg also said, “Easy call based on everything.”
The next two pitchers to follow Lee were also announced. A.J. Burnett will pitch in game two followed by Kyle Kendrick in game three. After that the rotation still has a few question marks. The Phillies have yet to announce that Roberto Hernandez will be the fourth starter and the fifth spot is still wide open with Hamels starting the season on the DL. If Hernandez were to be the fourth starter, he would start the 100th home opener at Wrigley Field.
The questions that surround the fifth starter are that the Phillies don’t need a fifth starter because they have scheduled days off until April 14. The options for the fifth starter are: Manship, Buchanan, and Pettibone who should return this week.
Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure spoke to this in Zolecki's piece as well.
“It’s right at 50-50. It’s just a thought. We have guys who are building up along with other guys. We’ll just see how health-wise we come out of this and go form there.”
If there is a five-man rotation, A.J. Burnett will pitch the Phillies home opener, but if it is a four-man rotation then it will be Kyle Kendrick.
Opening Day is March 31st, as the Phillies will travel to Globe Life Park in Arrington, TX, as they face the Texas Rangers and Yu Darvish.
Andrew Shipotofsky is writer for Philliedelphia. Follow him of Twitter @Ashipotofsky