When It Comes To Roy Halladay, Ignore The Style Points


Apr 14, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay (34) throws the ball in the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. The Phillies won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

It was against the Miami Marlins, so Roy Halladay’s performance on Sunday has to be considered with that in mind. Still, as bad as he’s been so far in 2013, neither Halladay, the team, nor fans should be worried about style points.

After two disastrous starts in which he compiled a 14.73 ERA and failed to make it out of the fifth inning in either start, Halladay was much better on Sunday. He pitched 8 innings and gave up just one run on five hits and one walk. And even though he only struck out two batters, he once again displayed Halladay-like efficiency, throwing just 87 pitches in those eight innings.

Now, it should be noted that Miami’s #3 and #4 hitters on Sunday were Placido Polanco and Greg Dobbs. This may have been the worst lineup Halladay will face all season, which led some to wonder if this win should even count.

The win, Halladay’s 200th of his career, led to a brief postgagame celebration in the clubhouse.

Which of course, raises an important question.

One thing is for sure. It can only happen if Halladay pitches against real teams like he did against the collection of ham-and-eggers the Marlins threw at him on Sunday.

Apr 14, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay (34) reacts to giving up a walk and a hit in the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. The Phillies won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Frankly, Halladay has been so bad that everybody was hitting him hard. Remember his second-to-last start of the spring, when he got torched by a collection of Toronto Blue Jay minor leaguers? If Halladay had not been sharper, even the stiffs and retreads on the Marlins would have gotten to him. No, Halladay and the Phillies cannot, and should not, be concerned with the talent level of their opponent right now. When you’ve been as bad as Halladay has been, any positive outcome is welcome news. Of course, haters gonna hate, and  CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman noted one NL scout wasn’t overly impressed.

"“I know it’s the Marlins, but he pitched all right,” the scout said. “The velocity wasn’t great. But as long as he’s keeping the ball down and finishing his pitches, he’ll be OK.”"

Halladay’s fastball was in the 88-90 mph range, and as long as his pitches have movement and location, that’s enough. Roy’s big problem had been falling behind hitters and, while that was still an issue early in Sunday’s game, he overcame it and at one point had retired 10 straight Marlins.

"“Really, from the third or fourth inning on, I was able to repeat, get ahead, get outs quick,” said Halladay. “That had been my biggest problem. Getting behind, getting in hitters’ counts. So I felt like mechanically we got things straightened out and I felt good, I felt like I was repeating my pitches. Later on I could throw any one of my pitches for strikes when I wanted to, so that, to me, was the biggest difference over the last two starts.” – quote per Daily News writer Ryan Lawrence"

Perhaps what Halladay said about his problems being 95% mental were somewhat accurate as well.

"“I think more than anything, I had been putting a lot of pressure on myself. To get in there and really, my plan the whole week was to worry about the game and not worry about what was going on internally. I felt like that made a big difference. We got a couple of base hits. And in the past, in the last few starts, I felt like those guys would get on and instead of internally thinking, OK, this is my plan, this is what I’m going to do, it’s like, well, you start thinking about the game and things you can’t control. To me that was a big difference and that was a big focus for me this week, to really try to focus on things that I could control.” – quote per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki"

So, the only thing that can be said about Roy Halladay’s start on Sunday is that it was light years better than anything seen in the last two months, even if it was against a team as bad as the Marlins.

No, he wasn’t the Roy Halladay of old, and the quality of the opponent certainly was a factor. But it was enough to back everyone a step or two away from the ledge for at least five more days.

Make no mistake. Sunday was a good day. Don’t get so caught up in the aesthetics that the larger picture gets lost.

For one start, Roy Halladay was good.

Style points be damned.