When last we left Roy Halladay, the Phillies’ ace right-hander was in Miami giving up four earned runs in five innings, capping off a season in which he posted an ERA of 4.49, threw only 156 innings, saw his K/BB ratio drop from 6.29 in 2011 to 3.67 in 2012, and watched his fastball velocity drop about two to three miles per hour on average.
Halladay missed six weeks, but it felt like a lot more. The Phils lost their best pitcher, really, for the entire season. Even when he pitched, he was a different pitcher.
Last year, we learned Roy Halladay is not a cyborg.
The reason? A strained right shoulder that seemed to bother him from the start of spring training.
This year, most of the offseason talk has been about the attempt, and struggle, to find enough pieces to add to an offense that struggles to score runs consistently. Everyone just assumes that the starting rotation, specifically the Big Three of Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, will revert back to being one of the most dominant trios in the National League once again.
Friends, of this, there is no guarantee.
Last week, Ruben Amaro was asked about the progress Halladay has been making, and his words did not exactly convey a warm feeling of security and confidence.
“Doc’s done very well. He’s going to start throwing off the mound here very shortly. [Pitching coach Rich Dubee] has seen him throw a couple times, at least long toss. I guess he’s working down there with Kyle Kendrick pretty extensively. He’s doing well, but we don’t know what kind of Doc we’re going to get until Doc’s down firing in Spring Training. But he’s feeling pretty good so far.”
Hey, if anyone can help Roy Halladay, it’s certainly Kyle Kendrick, right?
It’s interesting enough that Halladay did not have surgery on his shoulder this offseason, in an attempt to fix whatever plagued him last year. The apparent hope is that rest and a less strenuous offseason workout will help his aging shoulder coax those two or three lost miles per hour back into his fastball.
The Phillies are clearly counting on seeing a rejuvenated Halladay when he shows up to Clearwater in about a month or so.
But what if his fastball velocity doesn’t return? What if he continues to get hit around like he did last year? Roy Halladay is going to be 36 years old in 2013. Aren’t the chances his arm will never recover much greater than a return to his 2010 and 2011 levels of production?
Frankly, the Phillies cannot make the postseason without Halladay of old. Not enough has been done to improve the offense. It is not capable of carrying a pitching staff that is without its most important piece.
Of course, Lee and Hamels are still two pretty darn good aces to have at the top of the rotation. But they were also very good last year, and the Phils still managed just 81 wins.
Yes, the bullpen should be better this year, but as is seen every year with most teams, it’s almost impossible to accurately predict a bullpen’s production.
If Roy Halladay is once again the Roy Halladay of old, the Phillies have a chance to win 85-90 games, even with a corner outfield platoon and no more major additions.
But the odds of that happening seem to be much less than the odds that Halladay’s shoulder problems continue to be an issue.
So as everyone pines for Amaro to somehow overturn a rock and find an everyday, power-hitting corner outfield, perhaps people should be more concerned about the health of the most important member of the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies.
Everyone should be concerned about what the Phillies will get from Roy Halladay.