Three months ago, before the announcement was officially made, Roy Halladay endorsed Cole Hamels as the new leader of the Phillies rotation.
Halladay had started 10 straight times on Opening Day, dating back to his days in Toronto, but I the early part of spring training the aging veteran acknowledged it was Hamels' time.
"It should have been his spot a long time ago," Halladay said on February 21. "I think it's something he's going to embrace. …I talked to him about it when we're going out and doing drills, stuff like that, it's time for him now to kind of step up and take charge in those situations and establish himself as the head of the staff."
Halladay underwent right shoulder surgery on Wednesday. His return in 2013 is uncertain.
Hamels, meanwhile, has not exactly taken the reins of the rotation as many had expected.
Although individual leadership in a five-man rotation is probably as overrated as the significance of an opening day starter, it's never a bad thing to have reliability and regular excellence from any pitcher, let alone one you're paying $144 million over the next six seasons.
Hamels hasn't been unreliable in the last month. He entered Wednesday afternoon with a 2.41 ERA in his last six starts.
But he hasn't been excellent, either. And sans Halladay, the Phillies could use a better version of Cole Hamels than the one they've watched over the first six weeks of the season.
Hamels struggled with command early and was hit hard when he did locate. The result was an early exit for the ace and an ugly loss for his team.
Hamels gave up five runs in five innings as the Indians beat up the Phillies 10-4.
The Phils are probably happy they're home-and-home series this month with the Indians are finished. Cleveland outscored Charlie Manuel's bunch 32-11 in taking three of four games.
A little extra offense couldn't have hurt Hamels, who has struggled to get help from his teammates in the early part of the season. But the pitcher spent the majority of his Wednesday hurting himself.
Hamels' pitch count was at 51 after two innings and at 77 through three. Hamels was only down 2-1 at the end of the third inning, but that didn't last.
Cleveland eight-hole hitter Mike Aviles hit the first pitch he saw in the fourth inning for a solo home run. In the fifth, Jason Kipnis led off with a double and Nick Swisher followed two batters later with a no-doubt-about it two-run home run.
When the Phils pinch hit for Hamels in the bottom of the fifth, they trailed 5-1.
Only two National League pitchers – Milwaukee's Marco Estrada and San Francisco's Matt Cain – have allowed more home runs than Hamels (nine) this season. No pitcher in the NL has more walks than Hamels.
After walking two on Wednesday, Hamels, who also hit a batter, has a league-high 24 walks in 56 2/3 innings. Hamels walked just 52 batters in 215 1/3 innings in 2012.
With Halladay already out, the Phils can only pray that Hamels' wildness is an awkward phase and not related to any physical problems. The team signed Hamels to a six-year, $144 million contract extension in July.
Hamels is 1-6 with a 4.61 ERA after nine starts in 2013. The Phillies are 1-8 in his starts.