Did Workload Hurt Halladay?
Roy Halladay suffered his worst start with the Phillies today at Citizens Bank Park, and you knew the questions would turn to his heavy workload in recent weeks. How much did it play a role in his struggles against the Red Sox?
“Not a damn thing,” Charlie Manuel said.
“From the horse’s mouth, it didn’t affect me,” Halladay said. “It was just a matter of not making good pitches. That’s the bottom line. You prepare yourself obviously all winter and all season to be able to handle the workload. That’s your job as a starting pitcher. I feel like I’ve done that and I feel good going out there. Obviously, people are going to say what they want to say.”
We knew this much about Halladay before he stepped onto the mound today: He led Major League Baseball in innings (71 1/3); he ranked second in pitches per game (111.8) and fourth in pitches thrown (1,006); he had thrown 118, 119, 121 and 132 pitches in his previous four starts, which were the most pitches he had thrown in a four-start stretch in his career; and his 111.8 pitches per game were the most he had averaged in his career.
Halladay allowed eight hits, seven runs (six earned runs), two walks and one home run in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out one. It is just the second time in Halladay’s career he struck out one or fewer batters in five or more innings. It last happened June 3, 2006.
He didn’t seem to have his best stuff.
Why was that?
The Phillies said before Sunday that Halladay, 33, had adjusted his routine in between starts because of the increased workload. He skipped his bullpen session and instead threw on flat ground. I asked Rich Dubee on Friday about Halladay’s workload. He said they planned to keep him fresh by giving him extra rest in between starts. In other words, they planned not to have him pitch every five days, regardless of the schedule. If there was a day off, they would let him get that extra day. If there was a rainout and a day off, they would let give him the extra two days.
But the focus goes back to his start Tuesday against the Pirates. Should Halladay have thrown 132 pitches in a complete-game 2-1 loss? Asked why they felt comfortable having Halladay pitch the ninth, Dubee said, “Charlie wanted to send him out.” Was he comfortable with it? “I’m not going to talk about it,” he said.
Halladay had thrown 130 or more pitches just twice previously in his career. Interestingly, he threw one shutout and one complete game in the starts following those 130-pitch starts. He threw 130 pitches Aug. 9, 2008 against Cleveland, and allowed one run in nine innings at Boston on Aug. 16, 2008. He threw 133 pitches against the Angels on June, 2, 2009, and threw a shutout June 7 against Kansas City.
It’s May. The Phillies have lost four of the last six games Halladay has pitched, although this is the only the second game that can be traced to Halladay’s performance. And even then the Phillies scored just two runs in the two losses (at San Francisco on April 26 and today vs. Boston). Before everybody starts freaking out, let’s see how Halladay responds Saturday against the Marlins in Miami. Maybe it’s just coincidence. We’ll find out soon enough.