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Phillies at Braves: Cole Hamels Welcomes Back Baseball

Apr 1, 2013, 6:14 PM EDT

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There are plenty of familiar faces on the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies. This team still has that feeling of a team you know all too well, with many of the key components of their 2008 World Series run. But as mentioned in our look at the roster earlier today, 15 of the guys suiting up today weren’t in the dugout on opening day in 2012.

The first change will be noticeable on the first pitch of the game tonight in Atlanta. Fans should be happy to see Ben Revere and his speed at the top of the order this evening in Charlie Manuel’s first lineup of the season. All spring we wondered if he’d stick with Jimmy Rollins as his leadoff man or go with the speedy Revere.

Ruben Amaro Jr. brought in Revere as an affordable, young, high-upside guy this offseason in the hopes of plucking the next Juan Pierre out of Minnesota. Whether that ever comes to fruition remains to be seen. But at least for night one, J-Roll gives up his leadoff spot. That should please many.

While Revere’s star qualities remain a question mark, it’s the guy at the bottom of the order tonight that makes us feel most confident in the 2013 Phillies. Cole Hamels is your opening day starter. He’s got the biggest contract in Philly sports history in his bank account and it’s time for him to earn it.

It used to be every fifth day that Roy Halladay took the ball, we expected a win. Now, Cole’s the man that makes you feel like the Phillies are the favorites every time he takes the hill, no matter the opponent. Confidence in Cole is high.

The Fightins will get after it with their division rivals right from night one. The Atlanta Braves don’t get quite the hype that the Washington Nationals do these days, but with the addition of the Upton brothers, the Braves are many experts picks to get one of the NL wildcard spots, typically at the cost of the Phillies being left out in the cold making golf reservations.

For the first time in a long time the Phillies will have to prove doubters wrong instead of living up to high expectations. It’ll be a different mentality for both the players and fans alike.

It’s the Phillies 131st season of baseball. We’re pretty stoked. Hell, we’re even excited to hear Wheels call a meaningful baseball game.

I’m going with 88 wins and a wild card game. It’s a long summer. It always is. It starts tonight.

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Charlie’s Lineup: 1. Ben Revere 2. Jimmy Rollins 3. Chase Utley 4. Ryan Howard 5. Michael Young 6. Dom Brown 7. John Mayberry (4-13, 2 HRs vs. Hudson) Jr. 8. Erik Kratz 9. Cole Hamels

Atlanta’s Lineup: 1. Andrelton Simmons (SS) 2. Jason Heyward 3. Justin Upton 4. Freddie Freeman 5. B.J. Upton 6. Dan Uggla 7. Chris Johnson 9. Gerald Laird (C) 9. Tim Hudson

Get your predictions on the record in the comments. We’ll be here all night talking ball.

7:10 start from Turner Field. PHL17 and ESPN2 on your television. Franzke and LA on the radio on WPHT and WIP.