Cole Hamels will take the mound tonight for the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 1 of the 2008 World Series at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Hamels, the NLCS MVP, has been dominant throughout the postseason and is coming off a fine regular season in which he went 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA, 196-to-53 K/W ratio and 1.08 WHIP in 33 starts. Using his excellent change-up, one of the majors' best, he limited opposing hitters to a line of .227/.271/.384 and .656 OPS.
During the postseason, the 24-year-old left-hander has allowed only three earned runs in 22.0 innings pitched. He undoubtedly gives Philadelphia the advantage in the Game 1 pitching matchup.
Hamels will square off against Tampa Bay lefty Scott Kazmir, forming a matchup between a pair of pitchers selected within two picks of each other in the 2002 draft. While Kazmir has had his fair share of struggles recently, he is still the most successful pitcher in Rays' history. His problems are the direct result of his inability to work efficiently with his pitches, as he struggled to make it through the five innings in several of his outings down the stretch. However, he is coming off a solid performance in the ALCS, in which he shut down the Boston Red Sox for six solid innings in the Rays' infamous Game 5 loss at Fenway Park last Thursday.
During an injury-plagued regular season, Kazmir went 12-8 with a 3.49 ERA, 166-to-70 K/W ratio and .220 opponents' batting average. If he is economical with his pitches tonight, struggles aside, Game 1 may end up as an intriguing pitching duel.
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