Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies Vs. Boston Red Sox

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Despite low season expectations for the Philadelphia Phillies, the club will open their 2015 season against the Boston Red Sox this afternoon, in front of what will undoubtedly be a sell-out crowd.

This series could have had more hype around it if Cole Hamels, whose name was mentioned in rumored deals with Boston all off-season, was actually dealt. Instead, the Phillies will open their season up with Hamels slotted as their number one (not shocking).

This series features teams who appear to be on opposite trajectories, with Boston looking to contend for a world title and the Phillies as a potential 100-loss team.

The Phillies are heading into this season with a roster filled with names that most fans are not familiar with. While there are new names, you will find the likes of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the Opening Day lineup.

On the other side, the Red Sox feature a re-vamped roster with the additions of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez highlighting a win-now off-season mentality from General Manager Ben Cherington. The additions of Sandoval and Ramirez should add more power to an already potent offensive attack.

The opening series will feature several household names for the Sox, but the player to watch will be Mookie Betts, who is the new center-fielder in Boston. Betts’ was seemingly untouchable in talks involving Cole Hamels and showed why this spring by earning a starting spot for the Red Sox by posting a .429/.467/.750 slash line in 56 spring at-bats. If Boston is going to seriously compete for their second world title in three seasons, Betts is likely to be a big factor, even if he is a rookie.

This series also features two rotations that are surrounded by speculation.

The reason the Red Sox seemed (and still seem) like an obvious fit for Cole Hamels was their concern about not having a true number one. This offseason, the Red Sox made trades to acquire Wade Miley and Rick Porcello, but neither of them is a bonafide ace.

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For the Phillies, the rotation experiences a significant drop off after Hamels. This offseason, Aaron Harang joined the Phillies rotation, and will slide into the number two spot because of the Cliff Lee elbow injury.

My expectation for this series is a two-one series victory for the Red Sox. On paper, the Red Sox are significantly better than the Phillies. In fact, they probably won’t finish the season within 15 games of one another (being generous), but hey, you still have to play the games. The Phillies and Red Sox both have questions in their rotation, which adds a shimmer of hope for the Phillies in this series.

Game one: Clay Buchholz (8-11, 5.34 ERA in 2014) vs. Cole Hamels (9-9, 2.46 ERA in 2014)

Coverage: NBC 10, 94.1 WIP

It’s pretty weird to see a guy with a 5.34 ERA as an opening day starter, isn’t it? The Phillies have the clear edge on the mound in this matchup, but it also depends on which version of Clay Buchholz shows up. In 2013, he was brilliant in the first half of the season, flashing signs of being a potential ace. Since then, Buchholz has been far from ace status.

The Phillies offense isn’t anything to be in awe of, but if Buchholz isn’t on his game, the Phillies could put up a few runs. Boston will lose a key bat with Mike Napoli giving way to David Ortiz at first base, which helps the Phillies.

In game one, I give the edge to the Phillies because they are running out a better pitcher.

Game two: Rick Porcello (15-13, 3.43 ERA in 2014) vs. Aaron Harang (12-12, 3.57 ERA in 2014)

Coverage: The Comcast Network, ESPN 2, 94.1 WIP

Game two features a free-agent to be in Rick Porcello against 36-year old Aaron Harang. Both pitchers will be making their first starts for new teams to kick off their 2015 season. In this matchup, I give the starting pitching edge to the Red Sox. At this point, I trust Porcello, who has improved each year since 2010, way more than Harang.

Game three: Justin Masterson (7-9, 5.88 ERA in 2014) vs. David Buchanan (6-8, 3.75 ERA in 2014)

Coverage: The Comcast Network, 94.1 WIP

Game three could determine who takes home the opening series. Justin Masterson was far from impressive last season, but still has the capability to be a good major league starter (3.45 ERA in 2013).

For the Phillies, Buchanan was a delight in his 20 starts last season.  Coming into 2015, Buchanan has a lot to prove in the number three spot. In game three, I think the Red Sox offense is too much for the Phillies, giving the Red Sox a two to one series victory.

Next: The Strange Reason Why The Phillies Aren't Bidding to Host All-Star Games