Maybe this is the beginning of a great second chapter for Roy Halladay
It seemed logical that Roy Halladay eventually would pitch a game like this. Even with diminished velocity, he still has plenty of weapons. He has always known how to use them, too. He has been relentless in his preparation, in figuring out how to attack opponents and how to adjust to what he had working on a particular day.
Just because he couldn’t throw his fastball as hard as he once did shouldn’t be taken for the end of his career. If there was a question about what he could still be, it would be about his overall health. If he’s pitching without significant pain, then he might still be able to generate enough arm speed and arm action for his cutter and curve to be effective. He’d have less margin for error and because there was going to be a smaller difference between his change and his fastball, he had to be precise in his location.
He’d probably tell you that all those things were always true. Even a 100-mph fastball is hittable if it’s thrown down the middle of the plate. It’s less hittable than an 88-mph fastball thrown down the middle of the plate, but location will always as important as velocity.
Halladay had such a bad Spring Training and then got beat up so badly in his first two regular-season starts that it was easy to wonder if the end was at hand. If Nolan Ryan is right that an arm has only so many bullets in it, Halladay possibly had used his up.
He was once as durable as any pitcher, throwing 2,687 innings in his first 15 years. He led the American League in innings three times and the National League once. Between 2002 and 2011, he averaged 219 innings a season. But Halladay insisted he still had something left in the tank.
He simply had to make a mechanical adjustment with his cutter and get everything synched up. When he did, he’d still be able to pitch at a high level. If Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are still capable of being top-of-the-rotation starters, the Phillies might have another playoff run in them.
Hopefully, Sunday’s eight-inning, one-run performance against the Marlins represents a turning of the page for Halladay. He’s probably still a work in progress, so we’ll know more after his next start against the Cardinals. Still, the Phillies have to be thrilled by what they saw from Halladay against the Marlins.
He got outs on all his pitches, not just the cutter he has worked so hard to fine tune, but also his two-seam fastball, change-up and curveball. He touched 90 mph only a couple of times, but those days probably are gone forever.
“He carries a lot of respect. They know how dedicated and how hard he works.”—Charlie Manuel
The Phillies said they were not even considering pulling the plug on him, with GM Ruben Amaro Jr. saying Halladay would get all the time he needed to work out his problems. Amaro seemed confidence Halladay would do just that.
“He understands the game. Nobody is more prepared than him. His velocity might have been down a few ticks, but when he needed to make pitches, he made pitches.”—Mike Redmond
Now there’s something tangible on which to base that optimism.