What’s Up, Doc?
He left with a 3.58 ERA.
Halladay has not had an ERA that high this late in a season since he finished 2007 with a 3.71 ERA.
Reading my Twitter feed tonight it is clear more than a few people are worried about Halladay. I understand that. But there also are a few people ready to draw concrete conclusions based on his first 10 starts. I’m wondering how wise that is? Cliff Lee was 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA after 12 starts last season. That included a May 31 start, when he allowed six runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Nationals. I had a lot of people asking me then, “What’s wrong with Cliff?” My answer: Absolutely nothing. Remove a bad start against the Braves and a bad start against the Nationals — he allowed 12 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings in those starts — and he had a 2.90 ERA in his other 10.
Lee then went 13-3 with a 1.59 ERA in his final 20 starts to finish third in NL Cy Young voting.
In Halladay’s case, remove a bad start against the Braves and a bad start against the Nationals — he allowed 13 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings in those starts — and he has a 2.29 ERA in his other eight. Is Halladay’s velocity down? According to pitch f/x data, Halladay’s fastball has dropped from 92.71 mph last season to 91.58 mph this season (a 1.13 mph difference). But it also should be noted the pitch f/x data is not flawless. Read about that here. And Halladay’s game has never been about velocity. You never hear a hitter say, “I hate facing Halladay because he throws hard.” No, they hate facing Halladay because his ball moves and he has excellent control.
On the list of problems this team has right now, Halladay is not at the top of my list. That changes if it’s August and his ERA is approaching 4.00. But here is what he said about his first two months:
“The first two months … they’ve been tough for all of us,” he said. “You do everything you can to fix it, that’s it. I think it gets back to going out and trying to play a little bit more loose and focus on your job. I think, including myself, we’ve got a lot of guys who are going out and trying to carry the weight of the team. You can’t play that way. I think we’ve seen that. I think everyone is trying to pick up slack for what we might not be doing and guys we’re missing and all of that, and that only seems to compound the problem. A lot of us need to just go out, play the game and have fun playing the game. When you start pressing, start trying to do things you don’t need to do, it makes things worse.”
But he acknowledged feeling pressure to be perfect. Charlie Manuel correctly pointed out after the game, “Our starting pitching, they’re going to give up some runs. They’re only human, too. We should be able to come back and win some games every now and then. How many times have we come back and won games being behind? We just don’t put together enough. We don’t hit the ball good enough to win the game.”
“I don’t know if it’s necessarily offense or just trying to win games,” Halladay said. “Yeah, there’s a lot more tension to the games. You’re doing everything you can every pitch to help your team win. I don’t know if that’s just because we haven’t scored as many runs or because we haven’t necessarily played as well, but yeah, I think there is a certain weight and that ultimately falls on our shoulders, the pitchers to be able to overcome that.”
And what about his 4-4 record and a 3.58 ERA?
“I’m definitely not happy with the results, but I’ve always tried to prepare as well as I can, do everything to get myself ready and accept the results,” he said. “That’s really all you can do. I feel like I’ve tried to continue to do that and will continue to do that going forward. But I’m not concerned. I feel like I know how to overcome it. And I think we do as a team, too. I think when you start getting concerned, it adds a whole element that you really don’t need. I’m going to keep preparing and accept the results. That’s all I can do and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
And the question everybody is wondering … do you feel healthy?
Two interesting quotes from the Nationals clubhouse:
“I’ve seen him sharper,” Rick Ankiel said about Halladay. “But he’s still is who he is. It seems like in the past, consistently he’s been sharper. Tonight, he might have made more mistakes than normal. He’s human.”
And a great one from Bryce Harper, who tripled on a first-pitch curveball in the third inning. Harper said he had been watching Halladay for the past three years on TV and video. He said he planned to look for the curveball on the first pitch.
“I got it luckily, put a good swing on it and do some things,” Harper said. “I have been watching Halladay for three years and he throws a first pitch curveball to so many people and just let it get over the plate. I was just trying to get something up in that situation, get something going. We had two guys on and you had to get them in. He is a great pitcher.”
Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:
- June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
- June 16: Barnes & Noble, Wilmington, Del, 2 p.m.