This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the Phillies arranged their rotation this spring with this very idea in mind, but the team announced this evening that Cole Hamels will start on Opening Day against the Braves on April 1.
This will be the first Opening Day assignment of Hamels’ career. As a result, Halladay’s streak of Opening Day starts will end at 10. Halladay, who has started the last three openers for the Phillies, endorsed Hamels for the honor earlier this spring by saying that this is his time to lead the staff.
Hamels, 29, posted a 3.05 ERA and 216/52 K/BB ratio over 215 1/3 innings last season. The southpaw is entering the first year of a six-year, $144 million contract.
Free agent right-hander Chris Tillman is narrowing his pool of potential suitors, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Returning to the Orioles is one option, of course, but Heyman also mentions another two undisclosed teams who are still in the running. An earlier report from Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun suggests that as many as four teams may be in the mix; either way, a final decision is expected by Monday.
Tillman, 29, has spent the entirety of his major league career in Baltimore. After posting career-high numbers in 2016, his progress was derailed during an injury-plagued 2017 campaign, during which he missed nearly six weeks on the disabled list with recurring right shoulder inflammation. He finished the season with a bloated 7.84 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 4.9 SO/9 over 93 innings.
While the mystery teams have yet to reveal themselves, the Blue Jays, Twins and Tigers have all expressed interest in the veteran right-hander this offseason. Both the Blue Jays and Twins have made big moves to bolster their rotations over the last few days, with the additions of Jaime Garcia and Jake Odorizzi, respectively. That doesn’t mean that Tillman is out of reach, however — if his price is right, he could provide some much-needed depth for pitching staffs that finished 15th and 22nd in the league last year.