After tossing seven innings and 81 pitches in a minor-league rehab start yesterday, Cole Hamels is headed to Colorado to join the Phillies, and throw one last bullpen session. As long as no red-flags come up in that session, Hamels is expected to take Jonathan Pettibone‘s spot in the starting rotation (which won’t take back tonight’s results) and start Wednesday against the Dodgers.
Assuming a healthy Cole Hamels comes back, his return would immediately change the landscape of the Phillies rotation. Not only do Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett appear to be hitting their strides, but Hamels return will also push Kyle Kendrick back to the number four spot, and Roberto Hernandez to the number five spot. Pushing Kendrick and Hernandez back in the rotation, and sending Jonathan Pettibone back to the minor leagues, takes the Phillies from being a decent rotation, to having a shot to be one of the best in the National League.
A good sign that the Phillies are getting a healthy Cole back is that prior to tonight’s game, manager Ryne Sandberg reiterated that Hamels will not be a pitch-count when he does return.
It’s still taken some time, but he’s gone about it like a spring training with the normal progression of pitches,” Sandberg told reporters. “He’s built up now to no restrictions with him. So it’s like a shortened version of spring training.”
Giving Hamels a shot to begin his season against Los Angeles, a team that he has had some of the defining moments of his career against, will hopefully be the launching pad to a bounce-back season. Let’s face it, Cole under-performed in 2013, and has a lot to prove given his salary.