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.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.