On Monday’s match-up with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Philadelphia Phillies sent their workhorse ace to the mound. Roy Halladay would be pitching in his second start since returning from a lat injury that sidelined him for 8 weeks. Early on into the game, “The Good Doctor” or Doc was having trouble. From the very first at bat, Halladay was not locating his pitches well. His secondary pitches were breaking early and missed the zone. The slider wasn’t catching corners, back-door or otherwise. The curve ball was hanging over the middle of the plate, barrel-teasing, begging to get smacked into an outfield alley. Doc’s utility belt looked meek, modest, and ultimately too predictable.
Roy Halladay’s struggles make for quite the stat chart. I happen to have Halladay on my fantasy team. The Doctor started his season with a stellar outing against Pittsburgh. Working through eight clinical innings, Doc though a one hit shutout. Ever the picture of efficiency, Halladay only needed 92 pitches through those eight shut out frames. Even in this dominating performance, there were omens. Halladay’s fastball didn’t look as sharp or as intimidating as years before. He did hit the 90’s on the radar gun at one point, but it was curiously scarce, averaging at 89 for several frames. Fast forward a few starts later, and you can see things get much worse for The Good Doctor. Enter the Atlanta Braves.
Halladay’s start against the Braves on May 2nd was a puzzling compilation of everything that could go wrong with a pitcher’s stuff. Doc could hardly get his heater passed the 90mph clip. On the few occasions when he did, Doc’s fastball was a hitter’s tune-up, thrown right down the middle (or high in the middle to Heyward, which is the same thing). The lack of upper velocity in Doc’s fastball led to everything else falling apart. Halladay is known for his variety of pitches and brush-stroke location. The variety would make hitters buckle because they were often set up by Halladay’s 2-seam/ 4-seam heaters. Though Halladay’s velocity isn’t dropping off by much (his fastball has always averaged about 93mph), it’s the combination of the heater coming down to 89-90 mph and lack of location that worries. Doc’s 2-seamer and slider are in particular shambles. The back-door movement to his pitches to left-handers just isn’t the same, often either breaking too early (hitting the middle of the zone) or not quite moving enough (staying outside).
Roy Halladay is a work-horse pitcher who has regularly gone the distance in his starts. With so many seasons and so many 8-9 inning starts, is Halladay undergoing the break down effect of wear and tear? It wouldn’t surprise anyone if he was, being that Halladay (in terms of usage) has been to Philadelphia what Maurice Jones-Drew is to the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. When it’s all said and done, Halladay should be able to adjust to any aging or fatigue. Look for the Doctor to round out to a season floating around the 3.00 era mark.