Only one team in Major League Baseball history has finished a season with more than three players with at least 140 strikeouts. The Braves have five players who average 140 strikeouts per 162 games. So it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that Cole Hamels, who finished third in the National League with 216 strikeouts last year, fanned five Braves in just three innings of work in today's Grapefruit League game against Atlanta. Hamels allowed one run on four hits with no walks in three innings, his second outing of the spring.
Hamels only run was unearned and it came on a fielding error by Darin Ruf, who ran a circuitous route to a sinking line drive in left field and allowed the ball to get past him, turning what should have been, at best, a single into a man on third base.
Ruf did later hit an RBI single, snapping an 0-for-10 start to his spring.
Hamels is projected to be the Phillies' Opening Day starter, although pitching coach Rich Dubee and manager Charlie Manuel have not made it official. Hamels figures to face either veteran Tim Hudson or 2012 breakout star Kris Medlen in the season opener at Turner Field on April 1.
By the way, the five Braves who average at least 140 strikeouts per 162 games are Freddie Freeman (140), Jason Heyward (141), Justin Upton (154), B.J. Upton (171) and Dan Uggla (161).