After the Phillies’ 18-inning marathon on Saturday night forced the team to use Sunday’s starter, Tyler Cloyd, in a relief role, the Phils were desperate.
How desperate? So desperate they had to call up a pitcher who had only pitched twice so far this year at the Single A level.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, which is why MLB-hopeful Roy Halladay finally got his shot at the big leagues. And happily, the kid did good.
While Halladay’s velocity still wasn’t where it used to be (usually around 88-89 mph, occasionally touching 91), he was effective against the Diamondbacks in the Phils’ 9-5 win on Sunday, going six innings while giving up just two runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts. He was fairly economical with his pitches (94, 55 for strikes), appearing at times to have some idea where the ball was going when it left his hand.
There weren’t a lot of swings and misses, but for one start at least, Halladay looked like a serviceable Major League pitcher.
“I’m getting back to who I was,” said Halladay. ” I feel like each time out I’m progressing back to where I was. There are going to be changes, and you always change over your career. But I think my arm slot is back to where it used to be. The movement is back to where it used to be. I can be more consistent with the location. Just from talking to the doctors, the velocity is the last thing to come.”
The Phils will likely keep Halladay in the rotation for the rest of the season. He is a free agent once the year is over and, if he pitches like he did on Sunday from here on out, the Phils might try to re-sign him for next year. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels will definitely be back. But after those two lefties, the rotation is question mark.
Will the Phils agree to an arbitration deal with Kyle Kendrick that will pay him somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 million next year? Will they finalize their deal with Cuban defector Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez? Has Jonathan Pettibone shown enough to be brought back as the #5 starter next year?
“More than anything, I’m getting back to who I was,” Halladay said. “I feel like each time out, I’m progressing back to where I was. There’s going to be changes. You always change over your career.”
Offensively, Darin Ruf and Cody Asche both continued their hot hitting, with Ruf notching an RBI single in the first and Asche a two-run double in that same inning. John Mayberry added a two-run homer. And newly-acquired Roger Bernadina made two fantastic defensive plays in center field, one robbing Matt Davidson of a two-run home run with the Phils up 4-1, the other a spectacular diving catch in left-center in the seventh.
The Phillies needed a true back-up center fielder for 2014. They may have found one.
But the story of the day was Halladay, who frankly, looked a lot better than anyone had a right to expect. He wasn’t overly impressive in his two rehab starts for Lakewood, but found a way to finagle 18 outs from an Arizona team that doesn’t stink, offensively.
Time will tell if it was a fluke, or if Roy really has learned how to pitch with diminished stuff.
This kid just may have a future.