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Philadelphia Phillies vs Atlanta Braves Opening Day Preview

Projected opening day lineup for the Phillies:

1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Ben Revere, CF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Michael Young, 3B
6. Domonic Brown, RF
7. Erik Kratz, C
8. Laynce Nix, LF
9. Cole Hamels, SP

X-Factor

The X-factor in this game will be Ryan Howard. Howard has had great success against Tim Hudson in his career, hitting .338 with seven home runs and 17 RBI. Howard is the heartbeat of the Phillies team and if he hits well, they are a difficult team to beat.

Player to Watch

The player I am most excited to watch is Domonic Brown. In Spring Training, Brown was terrific, batting .376 and while crushing 7 homers. This is just a glance at the numbers he is capable of producing.

Brown, who was named a top-5 prospect in 2010 by Baseball America, has not played well in his 3 years on the Phillies. He has only recorded a career average of .216 and this may be his last chance to prove himself worthy of the major leagues. Brown has worked on his swing and thanks to hitting coach Wally Joyner his swing is producing. This is the first game for the new and improved Brown to display his potential and show whether he is a capable big league player or just another high prospect bust.

Pitching Matchup: Cole Hamels vs. Tim Hudson

The Opening Day pitching matchup (via Chattanoogan).

Cole Hamels, the crafty southpaw, finally gets the honor of being named the starting pitcher on Opening Day, breaking Roy Halladay’s 10-year streak of starting on Opening Day. Unfortunately, the honor for Hamels comes at the wrong time, as he has had struggles against the Braves at Turner Field. He has an ERA of 4.29 when pitching in Atlanta.

Tim Hudson is a crafty righty who is effective without overpowering hitters. Hudson has very good control and his best pitch is his sinkerball. He primarily uses his sinkerball to force ground balls. Hudson, unlike Hamels, gets a lot of outs from the field rather than strikeouts. Hudson had only 102 strikeouts whereas Hamels had 215 strikeouts last year. Hudson had a 3.62 ERA and 16 wins last year despite being 36 years old.

Edge: Hamels

Prediction

In the first game of the season, the Phillies start the 3-team race for the N.L. East title with a good start. Cole Hamels will start his season strong start holding the 2 newcomers Justin and B.J. Upton to no combined hits. Ryan Howard will continue his success against Hudson and the Phillies will get an early lead. Lastly, the improved bullpen for the Phillies will help close out a victory leading the Phils to a 5-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

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Categories: Editorial, Phillies

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