Roy Halladay Might Be Broken


Philadelphia, you may now officially start to panic.

Roy Halladay, it turns out, is not invincible. Bullets do not bounce off him. If you cut him, he will bleed. But for the last two years, it seemed like he was invincible. Almost everything Roy did was perfect, his consistency was remarkable, his production unmatched.

But we now have unmistakeable proof that Roy Halladay indeed is not a cyborg.

He is a regular man, with blood and cartilage and muscle and tissue. Throwing a baseball overhand at a high rate of speed, as well as breaking pitches that dance like a drunk ballerina, is apparently no better for Halladay’s arm and shoulder than it is for anyone else.

As you have probably heard already, Halladay had to leave Sunday’s 8-3 loss to the Cardinals in St. Louis after just two innings. He gave up a grand slam to Yadier Molina in the first, and retired the side in order in the second. It was after that second inning that Halladay informed pitching coach Rich Dubee that he felt soreness in the back of his right shoulder.

In all honesty, this should not have come as a big shock to anybody. Todd Zolecki did a great job today breaking down the loss of velocity in Halladay’s fastball. He and Jayson Stark also noted how infrequently Halladay has thrown his two-seam fastball this year.

(From Zolecki)Pitch f/x figures are not always accurate (they weren’t with Halladay early this season), but looking at those pitch f/x numbers anyway, Halladay’s sinker averaged 93.29 mph in 2010, 92.71 mph in 2011 and 91.6 mph this season. His cutter averaged 92.03 mph in 2012, 91.47 mph in 2011 and 89.58 mph this season. Dubee dismissed concerns about Halladay’s velocity, saying last month in San Francisco, “He’s got four pitches. He throws to both sides of the plate at any time. And overall he doesn’t use the meat of the plate. That’s what pitching is about. It isn’t about velocity. Velocity allows you one thing. It might allow you to get away with some mistakes. But straight velocity without location, and velocity without an option of being able to go soft or go backwards as far as pure speed, those guys get waffled.”

“But another indication Halladay hasn’t been right is the fact he has thrown fewer two-seam fastballs. During his starts in 2010, 33 percent of his pitches were sinkers. In 2011 it dropped to 20 percent and this season it dropped to 16 percent. If pitchers don’t feel good about their fastball they often resort to their offspeed pitches, which could be the case here.”

Also, this isn’t some recent phenomenon. Back in March, Ken Rosenthal quoted two scouts who noticed the decrease in Halladay’s velocity.

Of course, the Phillies, Halladay, Dubee and Ruben Amaro Jr. all dismissed the report as nonsense. “Roy is just getting a little older,” they said.

Turns out, someone should buy Ken Rosenthal and those two scouts something pretty.

Finally, Halladay and Dubee admitted that the shoulder soreness is something that has been with Halladay for most of the year.

After his start against Washington, in which he gave up five runs in six innings, Halladay said he was “fine” when asked if he was healthy, but admitted today that he did experience soreness during that start. Dubee said the soreness goes back even farther than that, saying, “It’s been lingering. Some days it’s better than others. Chicago [May 17] was better than others. Even the start of last game it was better and then got it cranky. Today, warming up, he felt fine, but as he got into the game and sat down and even before the first inning, it was just hard to get it going again.”

Why do players and coaches lie to the public about injuries that are clearly evident to all who are paying attention? Seriously, who did Halladay, Dubee and the rest of the coaching staff think they were fooling? Anyone could see from Halladay’s performance for much of this year, and the noted drop in velocity, that something was going on. It’s the same nonsense that Chase Utley and the staff always try to pull on the public.

Do we have the right to always know what’s going on physically with a player? Of course not. But there are times when it makes more sense to be forthright and honest about what’s happening. Halladay is a 35-year-old man who has pitched a ton of innings over the course of his career. It’s not unreasonable to believe that he would get hurt at some point. One can’t help but feel as if our intelligence has been insulted a bit by this whole process.

At the end of the day, no one really knows anything about Halladay’s condition yet. Perhaps a couple weeks on the disabled list will be all Halladay needs to shake the soreness. Perhaps the velocity will return once the soreness is gone (for the record, no one has admitted that the shoulder soreness has had anything to do with a drop in Halladay’s velocity). Or, perhaps Halladay will need Tommy John surgery.

The point is, Roy Halladay’s balky shoulder is just one more piece of bad news for a team that has had trouble getting started in 2012.

Suddenly, the bandwagon has a little more room today than it did yesterday.