Friday, May 12, 2006
By Jared Trexler
Make sure you packed more than a travel kit, Geoff Geary. If Cole Hamels and the Phillies brass has anything to do with it, you won't be trading destinations with the prized lefty phenom ever again.
Geary ironically was the first player to greet the lanky pitching prodigy onhis initial trip to the Phillies clubhouse. And Geoff has been pitching well lately, but the time-honored management cop-out of a player's available options reared its ugly head.
I hear Lackawanna County Stadium is beautiful in mid-May.
The immediate future also looks fairly beautiful for the Phillies, who embark on a six-game road trip starting Friday night in Cincinnati after winning 10 of 11 and two out of three against the division-leading New York Mets.
Now, the best young pitching prospect in the game will make his major league debut Friday night for the hottest team in baseball.
Hamels' fastball tops out around 92 miles per hour. His curveball is 12-to-6and slightly above average. The left-hander's changeup is downright filthy. He also hides the ball well throughout his delivery, exploding a pitch on a hitter at the last possible second.
I'm not a talent evaluator by any stretch, but the numbers don't lie: A 2-0 record with a 0.39 ERA and 36 strikeouts to one walk in 23 innings over three starts at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Hamels throws strike one. He's walked just one hitter. He has given up just two homers during his brief minor-league career.
Got the money for those playoff tickets?
(Settle down Jared).
I need to catch myself at times because these are the Phillies. They show peaks of greatness, get a fan base excited and then disappoint before thetrue fun of a pennant race begins.
And the only numbers that will ultimately matter for Hamels are the ones that start from pitch one at Great American Ball Park on Friday night.
Regardless if he's going to be sensational or just good, however, moving Hamels into the rotation and Ryan Madson back to the bullpen improves the team. And when an organization can improve a club as hot as the Phillies from within in the middle of May, well...teams just don't get that fortunate very often.
Especially the Phillies.
So find the local bar. Call off the graveyard shift. Cancel plans with the wife. The Phillies have the look of a division contender with the pitching savior toeing the rubber for the first time on Friday.
The following words are rarely uttered, so savor this moment:
Friday night is a good time to be a Phillies fan.