There is no way to sugar-coat it. His first start of 2013 for the Philadelphia Phillies was not one that anyone would ever associate with a player like Roy Halladay (pictured), who could be considered one of the 10 best pitchers of the last 30 years. But there is no denying that stats line. “Rocky” doesn’t even begin to describe the debacle at Turner Field on Wednesday night.
Five runs, all earned, on six hits and three walks through 3 1/3 innings. Only 10 outs, and it took 95 pitches to get them. Two home runs, one of them a solo shot by catcher Evan Gattis in his first MLB game — which happened while his dad was being interviewed live. The only good part of Doc’s evening was the nine strikeouts he recorded. All in all, though, it was definitely the kind of start that could be expected from a journeyman, not a pitcher of Halladay’s reputation.
Could this be chalked up to an early-season hiccup? Can Halladay come good after a disastrous outing like that? He says he can, but that’s what a competitor is supposed to say. It’s probably too early to write him off: after all, Doc has pitched a perfect game (May 29, 2010, the 20th in MLB history) and is only the second player ever to pitch a no-hitter in the post-season — the other is Don Larsen, who threw a perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
Halladay is an eight-time All-Star and has won the Cy Young Award in each league (2003 in the American League, 2010 in the National League). The only thing missing from his impressive record is a World Series ring. However, certain factors need to be considered. He is 35, so he’s begun the inevitable downside of his career for that reason alone. Last year was the first since 2005 in which he wasn’t able to get at least 30 starts. His ERA of 4.49 in his 25 starts was his worst by far since 2000, when he was sent to the minors to straighten out some issues with his delivery.
Perhaps the most telling sign of age catching up with him is the mix of pitches he used in the start. His velocity had decreased in spring training, so he relied almost half the time on curveballs and changeups. Once the better batters in the order detected this, they undoubtedly sat and waited for the changeup to come their way, and they made him pay.
So Doc needs to do something, and soon. He must either rebuild his arm strength so he can make his fastballs count, or mix up his pitches so he’s not as predictable as he was on Wednesday night. In any event, Halladay is a hard worker and has earned some slack. He deserves to get a few more starts to straighten things out.