March 28, 2013; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay (34) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
There you go, believing your lying eyes again. What have I told you all about doing that?
You say you’re worried about Roy Halladay as the Phillies leave Clearwater today ahead of two more preseason games against the Blue Jays in Philadelphia this weekend? You say you don’t know what you’re going to see when Halladay’s turn in the rotation comes up on Wednesday in Atlanta? You mean, you’re concerned about Roy’s 6.06 spring ERA, the 11 earned runs he gave up in 16 1/3 innings, the 21 hits he allowed, including three homers, and the 9 batters he walked (he also struck out 16)?
You don’t think yesterday’s 4 1/3 inning performance against Toronto in which he gave up eight hits and two runs while walking two and striking out six was all that encouraging?
You better not let Roy Halladay hear you talking like that. Because he’ll punch you right in the crotch.
"“Physically, this is as good as I’ve felt coming out of spring training in probably five years as far as total body,” Halladay said on Thursday. “Stuff-wise and location and movement — I’m just a click behind where I want to be.“But with all the changes and adjustments we made, physically and mechanically, I’m excited to come out feeling the way I feel. I’m happy where I’m at.” – per CSNPhilly’s Jim Salisbury"
Ah yes, the old “best shape of my life” routine. That old chestnut never gets old.
Of course, the Phils’ 35-year-old right-hander, who says he is physically feeling better than he ever has before, can’t throw his signature cutter anymore. He can’t consistently throw above 90, averaging between 88-90 with his fastball yesterday. He also lost 10 pounds due to a stomach virus, and has battled control issues all spring long.
Frankly, Roy Halladay has been doing a heckuva Kyle Kendrick impersonation for the last year and a half.
Ever since his 2010 NLDS 1-0 loss to the Cardinals, Halladay has not been the same pitcher. Is it possible that one game, that soul-crushing, life-shortening baseball game, broke Roy Halladay?
If you ask scouts watching Halladay’s performances this spring, the answer is yes. If you ask pitching coach Rich Dubee, scouts are dumb.
"“I don’t know of any scout that’s ever been 100 percent,” Dubee said. “I don’t. First of all, when you’re looking at players, you have to look at first, ability, and second, you have to look at character. This guy still has plenty of ability, believe me, and the utmost character on the mound. He’s a winner. He may not have the same bullets, but he’s going to be able to pitch us quality games and win ballgames for us.”"
And that’s the basic question. The old Roy Halladay is gone forever. Can the new Roy Halladay stop elevating his pitches in the strike zone? Can he figure out a way to challenge hitters when he’s ahead in the count? Can he become an effective #3 starter for the Phillies? Can he learn to throw his cutter for strikes and use it as an out pitch, like he once did? Halladay says he can.
"“It was really good today,” Halladay said of his cutter. “We threw them in to lefties and back-door. We threw a lot of sinkers to both sides of the plate. But the cutter today was as good as it has been all year. I’m happy with how I feel with my delivery. If I come out of my delivery, I feel like I can make a quick fix on the mound.”"
Unfortunately, the results have not born out that optimism. And one has to wonder if Halladay is trying to convince us, or himself, that he can do this. It wouldn’t be the first time a formerly great athlete tried to convince himself his career wasn’t over.
On Wednesday against Atlanta, the team should start to get some answers. Halladay will face a Braves squad that crushed him last year (30 hits and 22 earned runs in 17 2/3 innings for an 11.21 ERA in four starts) next week. Not exactly the ideal opponent for getting your feet wet.
Still, this is Roy Halladay. The man deserves a chance to prove to everyone he isn’t cooked yet.
And he will get that chance, likely on Wednesday night against the Braves.