Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 4/1/13

It is more than the first series of 2013 for the Philadelphia Phillies and Cole Hamels.  These contests are 3 of the 38 most important battles that will determine serious October baseball in Philly. TAL’S HANDY CAPS WELCOME, NEWCOMERS: By design my articles represent a baseball man’s thinking, the view from the dugout and the GM’s box. Most fans do not consider the budget, prospects on the radar, the club’s weaknesses, the track record, the competition and the other intangibles. Please go to my author archives or Phillies page for my most recent coverage. Scroll down to Tal’s Handy Links at the bottom. Thank you. Check out:  Philadelphia Phillies story-poll: The ‘pen gambit Post time is 6 to 9 pm for the days listed below. Baseball-Fix Schedule The new summer schedule will allow me to publish the best 3 storylines each week, but there will be an updated calendar included with each feature:  These posts involve commentary, polls and stats for the upcoming 7 days. Any schedule changes and holdups that may occur will be posted at Tal’s Handy Caps on Facebook. April 1 to April 7 HEADLINEFORMATTIMEFRAMEPUBLISHING StorylineNitecap InsightWed., Fri. & Sun.3 Times a Week Story-pollComplimentary PieceThur.3 Times per 14 Days ERA for MLB 5 at Game 4Tal's Handy StatsSat.3 Times per 14 Days Jonathan Papelbon Dials up a Slider during the 9th at the Bank on March 29 against the Blue Jays.   NITECAP INSIGHT         Grudge Match One: The underdog is not a person; it is a hunger, a core four, and a club that has to–by current standing–chase a rival or two for an entire campaign. Hamels had the Mets as a nemesis, but he has used his competitive determination to recently turn that around. The same is true of his first outings to open the year and the second half.  He overcame that struggle too with his performance after the last mid-season break in Colorado. Plus, when Roy Halladay went down, Hamels had 4 disappointing appearances consecutively; however, Opening Day will not be a surprise for this now prepared head of the staff, while a big yard in April cannot hurt either. Cole Hamels’ Statistics: TEAM - DEC.DATELOC.INN.HR - ERBB - SO Mets - LApril '11Home2.276 - 62 - 3 Mets - LJuly '11Away4.187 - 74 - 3 Marlins - LApril '12Home5.184 - 30 - 9 Rockies - WJuly '12Away8.061 - 11 - 7   Chase Utley Nails the 7th-Inning Runner on Ruiz’s Throw at the Bank on March 30 against the Blue Jays.   Atanta’s rotation is not as strong this tour, and Kris Medlen will almost certainly not match his 2012 numbers (10-1, 1.57 ERA). They are without Chipper Jones, but they have added B.J. and Justin Upton, while Dan Uggla is still the same strikeout machine. Ergo, there is no magic Braves’ formula for the brothers, which means their punch outs will continue. Like the Phils, they are without their regular catcher, and Michael Bourne has moved on. Lee Fires Hot Dogs at the End of Spring Training on March 30 at the Friendly Confines. Halladay could benefit by being between Hamels and Cliff Lee, because they will relieve some of the pressure on him. However, Halladay is a warrior and his game-day adrenalin will add a mile or two to his fastball. He is also drawing the weakest of the top 3 Atlanta hurlers but Paul Maholm is a southpaw. That stated, the red pinstripes–even without Carlos Ruiz and Delmon Young–are more offensively dangerous this April. Each is a 3-game series to open ’13: The Philies verses the Royals, the Mets and the Marlins (away). The Braves against the Cubs, the Marlins (away) and the Nationals (away). The Nationals verses the Marlins, the Reds (away), the White Sox and the Braves. Lee Deals a Curveball at the Bank on March 29 against the Blue Jays. Washington has added a solid closer in Rafael Soriano, but they lost their 3 left-handed relievers:  Sean Burnett (Angels), Michael Gonzalez (Brewers) and Tom Gorzelanny (Brewers). Considering the left-side sticks in Philly, that could be a problem for the Nationals. The table below indicates that Washington during their 98-win campaign only played .500 ball against the dramatically weakened Phils. On the other hand, Atlanta is overdue for payback to the maximum. 2012 Records: RIVALHOMEAWAYTOTAL Braves0 - 032 - 0102 - 04 Nationals1 - 021 - 0202.- 04 1ST HALF1 - 053 - 0304 - 08 Braves2 - 042 - 0404 - 08 Nationals4 - 023 - 0307 - 05 2ND HALF6 - 065 - 0711 - 13 Braves Total2 - 074 - 0506 - 12 Nationals Total5 - 044 - 0509 - 09 TOTAL7 - 118 - 1015 - 21   Ryan Howard Misjudges a Foul Pop during the 4th at the Bank on March 29 against the Blue Jays.     The strategy here is to track down the prey in the early part of April, and gain an advantage on them. During the summer, there are 38 battles against the Braves and the Nationals, which is 23.5% of the 162. To capture the divisional flag, the Phils must go 22-16 (.579) against these foes: That is 11-8 each, which is a 94-victory pace. The beginning of 2013 will influence the down-to-the-wire ending for the red pinstripes and Atlanta. This is a very different season that is good for most of the players, and it is a squad that hasn’t been the hunter since 2008, which wasn’t over until after the parade.   Phillies e-mail notification: Email Notifications   LINK-UP BELOW: A link for Phillies e-mail notification is provided above and below. Any schedule changes and holdups that may occur will be posted at Tal’s Handy Caps on Facebook. This is the 22th storyline for 2013. Check out my recent publication (Now and Later) on the Phillies page or my author archives, where there is an excerpt photo. Also, my new feature is Story-poll.  The last one was Odd Man Out. I will periodically publish the 2013 ERA for the NL East and the 2013 ERA for the MLB 5. Thank you, to all who bookmarked my page. TAL’S HANDY LINKS Email Notifications TAL’S HANDY CAPS on Facebook  Philadelphia Phillies storyline: Two destinations (Now and Later) Philadelphia Phillies story-poll: The ‘pen gambit (Odd Man Out) Phillies Tal Venada (Author Archives) Philadelphia Phillies: 2012 ERA for the NL East at final game 162 Philadelphia Phillies: 2012 ERA for the MLB 5 at final game 162

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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