Because we really don't have anything better to do, let's take a quick look at the likely pitching matchups for the Phillies' first four series of the season.
1. at Pirates (April 5-8)
Thursday - RHP Roy Halladay at LHP Erik Bedard; Saturday - LHP Cliff Lee at RHP Jeff Karstens; Sunday - RHP Vance Worley at RHP James McDonald.
WHAT TO WATCH: The Phillies should be solid favorites in the first two games of this series, while Sunday features a matchup of two young pitchers coming off solid seasons.
2. vs. Marlins (April 9-12)
Monday - LHP Cole Hamels vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez; Wednesday - RHP Roy Halladay vs. RHP Josh Johnson; Thursday - RHP Joe Blanton vs. LHP Mark Buehrle
WHAT TO WATCH: This is going to be one of the better April series that we've seen over the last four or five years. Halladay and Johnson is the marquee matchup, but Sanchez has pitched well against the Phillies in the past. Buehrle has been a workhorse for the White Sox for his entire career. He isn't a strikeout guy, but it will be interesting to see how he translates to the National League. Give the edge to the Phillies on Monday and the edge to the Marlins on Thursday. As for Wednesday, Johnson and Halladay have already had several epic duels. Give the slight edge to the Marlins lineup against Halladay over the Phillies lineup against Johnson. The Phillies would have to be happy to be 4-2 at the end of this series, although 3-3 is a distinct possibility.
3. vs. Mets (April 13-15)
Friday - LHP Cliff Lee vs. RHP R.A. Dickey; Saturday - RHP Vance Worley vs. LHP Jon Niese; Sunday - LHP Cole Hamels vs. RHP Mike Pelfrey.
WHAT TO WATCH: Count on the Phillies using their two early off days to get their workhorses an extra day off. Why bother skipping Blanton this early in the season? The Phillies do not line up to face Johan Santana, but they do have to tangle with a couple of starters who have given them fits at times over the last couple of years. They have the heavy edge on Sunday, and a solid edge on Friday, assuming Friday is one of the days that the lineup is able to hit Dickey's knuckleball. As for Saturday, the Phillies get a slight edge, although Niese has pitched well against them in the past.
4. at Giants (April 16-18)
Monday - RHP Roy Halladay at RHP Tim Lincecum; Tuesday - RHP Joe Blanton at LHP Madison Bumgarner; Wednesday - LHP Cliff Lee at RHP Matt Cain.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: In the words of an old friend who used to play wide receiver around these parts, get your popcorn ready! We'll take Lee and Halladay against the Giants' lineup.
Quite a few interesting matchups in the first 12 games of the season. The Mets series might just be the best barometer for the season to come, because it will give you a chance to see the lineup in action against the kind of pitchers they are going to need to beat consistently this season.