Cole Hamels makes his first start of 2009 this afternoon. He faces righty Jason Marquis in Colorado as the 2-1 Rockies play their home opener.

Hamels comes off a worrisome spring training in which he struggled with elbow issues. Hamels pitched 7 2/3 official spring innings, throwing to a 9.39 ERA with a 1.17 ratio. He struck out 10 and walked just one. He was hit pretty hard on Saturday against the Rays in the final tune-up for the ’09 season, allowing six runs over five innings. This report had his fastball topping out at 86 miles per hour.

Hamels didn’t face the Rockies in 2008 and has never faced them in a regular season game. He did pitch against them in game one of the NLDS in 2007. He pitched well in that game, but allowed three runs in the second inning. Three was too many that day as Jeff Francis was fantastic for the Rockies.

The Phillies will likely be careful about Hamels’ pitch count early in the season this year. In 2008 he threw at least 110 pitches in a start four times before the end of May.

Marquis appeared in 29 games for the Cubs last year, making 28 starts and one relief appearance. He’s been pretty good against lefties over his career, they’ve hit just .263 against him compared to .271 for righties. He walks too many lefties, though, in 2008 he walked 45 in 76 2/3 innings (5.28 walks per nine innings) and just 25 righties in 90 1/3 innings (2.49 per nine).

Marquis made one start against the Phils in ’08. On April 13 he went five innings for the Cubs and allowed two runs. He walked five that day. The Cubs won that game 6-5 in ten innings with the help of a big late error from Utley, who struggled defensively early in 2008.

Rollins is 3-for-31 (.097) against Marquis in his career. Feliz 2-for-14 (.142). Utley 7-for-16 with a double. Coste 4-for-8 with an RBI while Ruiz has never faced him.

The Phillies signed 32-year-old right-handed reliever Tyler Walker to a minor league contract. Walker made 65 appearances for the Giants in 2008, throwing to a 4.56 ERA and a 1.28 ratio in 53 1/3 innings. He was in the mix to be the Mariners’ closer this year, a job that was won by Brandon Morrow. Seattle released him at the end of March.

Walker is ill-suited to be anyone’s closer. Lefties have hit 290/361/477 against him over his career. What he can do is get righties out. Righties hit just 186/274/287 in 147 plate appearances against Walker in 2008, while lefties blasted him to the tune of 319/372/597.

Here’s how the numbers that right-handed hitters put up against Walker compare to what righties did against other right-handed relievers for the Phils in 2008:

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Even with the great year that Durbin had in 2008, Walker was still a little better against righties. Lefties hit Durbin hard last year, too, posting a 311/401/394 line. The averages and the on-base percentages that left-handed hitters put up were similar for Walker and Durbin in ’08, but lefties slugged .394 against Durbin and .597 against Walker.