There aren't many doubts that Cole Hamels and Scott Mathieson are still on track to be key components of the Phillies starting rotation before too long. Both have all the talent necessary to make it in the majors, but both are young and prone to struggling; that's exactly what happened on back-to-back nights at Citizens Bank Park.
Friday night, Cole Hamels looked to snap the Phillies losing skid and came up horribly short. The lefty phenom lasted just 3 2/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who handed the Phillies their fifth straight loss. Hamels allowed five earned runs on seven hits and a walk, watching his ERA balloon to 4.91 on the season. Hamels was pitching in his first game ever at Citizens Bank Park, after making his initial starts on the road for the Phillies.
Hamels gave up two homeruns to Julio Lugo, who now has seven homeruns on the season.
Saturday night, Scott Mathieson played the role of somewhat of an emergency starter for the Phillies and did last six innings, but was hit for four earned runs by the D'Rays. Mathieson gave up two runs in his first inning, obviously shaken in his first major league start. Later, Rocco Baldelli hit his first homerun of the season off of Mathieson, who left the game with the Phillies trailing 4-2.
Hamels and Mathieson figure to put up impressive numbers before their careers are over, but both are going to struggle at times. Mathieson figured to be somewhat overmatched, but because of injuries, he was forced into the rotation for at least one start. Prior to Saturday night, Mathieson hadn't pitched above AA ball. He'll likely wind up back in the minors before too long, needing to work on developing his change-up more, but he'll at least have gotten some exposure to major league hitters.
Hamels admitted to trying to do too much in his home debut. "I tried to go out there and make the outs by myself, not really using the team. Trying to overpower guys; sometimes you can't do that at this level. I definitely need to be more crafty... instead of trying to force it," said Hamels in an analysis of his Friday night start.
Both pitchers have some growing to do - Mathieson more than Hamels - but both figure to be worthy of filling key spots in the Phillies rotation for many years.