PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After an injury riddled 2012, and a less than stellar 2013 Spring Training, all eyes were on Roy Halladay as he made his first start of the season Wednesday night against the Braves.
Instead of answers, Halladay’s performance brought on even more questions about just how productive he can be for the Phillies this year.
Halladay was hit hard in his 3 1/3 innings, and struggled with his fastball. He had to rely on off-speed pitches, which forced him to throw over 90 pitches without getting out of the 4th inning. Still, he was able to strike out nine batters during his brief stay on the mound.
“If I could tell you I have any huge conclusions, I don’t. It was one of the most bizarre games in terms of outings because—I mean, OK he gets ten outs, nine of them by strike outs,” MLB Analyst Peter Gammons told Angelo Cataldi and the 94WIP Morning Show on Thursday. “The Braves are a strikeout team, but the command—I keep thinking, well maybe it’s because he had time off. Because, I mean, 40 pitches in the first inning and going to three balls eight-out-19 hitters, which is not Roy Halladay esque. The one thing I took out of it was, I don’t yet see late movement on his fastball, which is the trademark of Roy Halladay. Now, it may be that he hasn’t had enough time to build up his arm speed, to get that late movement and to get hitters out with his fastball and become much more economical. That’s just something that we have to watch him try to fight through. My feeling is, I think the Phillies are better than a lot of people think, and I think you would agree though, they need Roy to be there with Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. They need to be that big three, and when they face a team like Atlanta, which is going to strike out a lot—I love the Braves. I think they’re really good and really improved, but the one thing that’s troubled me is that when you’re facing the Phillies and Nationals 38 times during a season—those are two strikeout staffs. How much will impact the Braves? It didn’t impact them—they struck out a lot against Halladay, but they hit his fastball and when he missed the pitched to [Justin] Upton, he must have missed by a foot and a half.”
Many have said that for Halladay to extend his career, he’ll have to learn how to get batters out in a different way. Though he was never what you’d call a “power pitcher,” there’s a big difference between a 92-93 mile per hour fastball, and an 87 mile per hour fastball, especially when it could be located as particularly as Halladay could locate it.
“Again, that may be just the process of finding himself,” Gammons said. “That was April 3rd, so cold and miserable in the northeast, maybe it’s all going to come. The great thing about Roy is that he never gives in, coupled with the fact—I mean the fact is he knows what adversity is. He still has the record for the worst ERA in baseball history, in 1990 for a starting pitcher, and he came back and is the winning-est pitcher in baseball since then.”
It’s hard to tell if Halladay’s uneven performance was a step in the right direction in his evolution, or just another sign that the right-hander’s days could be numbered.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.