In the last 2 days, the Phillies have watched the two pitchers atop their rotation post two of the team's top pitching performances of the young season. Cole Hamels looks plenty ready to join the party.
In what was very likely his final minor league rehab start, Hamels pitched seven strong innings for Class- A Clearwater on Thursday night. Hamels allowed one run on three hits while walking one and striking out two.
Hamels, making his third start for the Threshers, threw 57 of his 81 pitches for strikes. The only run he allowed came on a home run from Lakeland's Connor Farrell in the fifth inning.
Hamels will likely be activated off the disabled list early next week, when the Phillies play four games against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Hamels could return as early as Tuesday; the Phillies could also choose to bump him back a day, to Wednesday, which would split the lefthanded starters in their rotation.
Cliff Lee, who threw a complete game only to lose 1-0 on Wednesday night, is scheduled to pitch on Monday at Dodger Stadium. Either Hamels or A.J. Burnett, who threw even shutout innings in a 1-0 win over the Braves on Thursday, would follow Lee.
Hamels was placed on the 15-day DL before the start of then season after his offseason and spring training throwing program were slowed after battling biceps tendinitis in November.
The Phillies begin their 10-day, 10-game west coast trip in Denver on Friday. Jonathan Pettibone starts against the Colorado Rockies on Friday, with Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez scheduled to follow this weekend at Coors Field.