Bad News from St. Louis

Cross your fingers.

Roy Halladay left today’s start in St. Louis after the second inning with what the Phillies call “shoulder soreness.” They said he left for precautionary reasons, but the fact Halladay feels anything in his shoulder is not encouraging. He told reporters in St. Louis he started to feel something in the back of his shoulder in his last start last week against Washington, but Rich Dubee said the issue has been lingering a bit longer than that. Of course, it is possible Halladay has been feeling something since spring training. Everybody remembers Ken Rosenthal‘s report from a couple scouts that Halladay lacked velocity and sharpness. Halladay denied any talk he might be injured, although he did not deny he lacked the velocity he had in the past.

“Yeah, I’m 34 and 2,500 innings, it does take a while to get going,” he said in March. “I don’t pay attention to that. The older you get, the more you throw, the longer it takes you to get yourself going. When I came up I threw 98. Last year I was throwing 92-93. It’s not unusual. When you get older it takes you longer. The more innings you throw the more it takes to get yourself going again.”

Halladay was 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA in five starts in May, easing those concerns. But the discussion about his drop in velocity continued. 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. (I recall Brett Myers relying a lot on his cutter a few years ago when he lost velocity on his fastball.)

Halladay blew a six-run lead in Atlanta on May 2, and looked bad again last week against Washington when he allowed five runs in six innings. He is 1-3 with a 6.11 ERA in six starts this month. Opponents are hitting .312 against him. Asked after his start against the Nationals if he was healthy, Halladay offered a don’t-be-ridiculous smile and said, “Yeah. Yeah.”

It turns out, wasn’t.

He will get reevaluated Tuesday. I would be shocked if he made his next start, although they could skip a turn with an off day Thursday. But I would be more surprised if Halladay did not end up on the DL. He’s a $20 million pitcher and means too much to the organization to risk throwing him back out there too soon. If it really is nothing serious like Halladay believes — he said it’s different than the shoulder problem that put him on the DL twice in 2004 — there’s no harm in shutting him down for a couple weeks and making sure the shoulder gets as healthy as possible.

But serious or not, this injury certainly has several potential implications:

  • The Rotation. If Halladay misses any amount of time, Kyle Kendrick will remain in the rotation. (He has a 1.64 ERA in his last five starts.) If Vance Worley can get back in a reasonable amount of time, the rotation will include Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton, Worley and Kendrick. That’s not bad. But if Worley (right elbow inflammation) isn’t ready soon, the Phillies will have to look to Triple-A Lehigh Valley for a short-term replacement. Options include Dave Bush (4-3, 2.73 ERA in 9 starts), Tyler Cloyd (4-1, 2.15 ERA in six starts) and Scott Elarton (5-1, 2.98 ERA in nine starts).
  • Roy Oswalt. The Phillies watched Oswalt throw a bullpen session a couple weeks ago. It has been written Oswalt prefers to stay close to home in Mississippi, but don’t read too much into that. There were similar reports before he accepted a trade to the Phillies in 2010. If Halladay’s injury is serious and he misses a significant amount of time, Oswalt would make a lot of sense if the Phillies were willing to meet his asking price. The Phillies are still trying to stay below the $178 million luxury tax threshold, but Oswalt would put them over the top.
  • Cole Hamels. If Hamels is intent on taking the biggest offer on the open market this winter, the Phillies could make the argument they would be better served spending that money elsewhere (offense!) because they are the rare team with two other aces already in the rotation (Halladay and Lee). But if the news Tuesday is bad, the Phillies might not feel so comfortable about their pitching moving forward. Maybe it increases their urgency to sign Hamels.

*

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.
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16 Comments

It explains a lot about his May performance. Or lack there of.
Get better Doc! We need you!

before all you Drs start saying he was injured all season and kept quiet, perhaps he was over-trying the last few starts as he wasn’t having his ususal success and thats what caused the soreness. In any case, this changes things regarding cole and oswalt

So, we’re not allowed to speculate, but YOU are? And it doesn’t change anything about Oswalt.

Uh hey Rube, the offense sucked wayyyyyy before you dumped 50 mil into a relief pitcher who is 100% useless unless you can actually score a lead.
That’s great asset management there buddy, I could do your job.

Is Halladay pitching hurt on a par with “taking one for the team”? What the Phillies need is an official Mushroom Night at CBP. All fans would be given a mushroom shaped cap. Rather than a seventh inning stretch, the lights would be turned off and the Phanatic would drive around the field shooting horseshit on the fans rather than hot dogs or tee-shirts..

Maybe this explains why he’s been somewhat “Un Doc like” so far this season. Hopefully it’s not something that sends him to the DL.

No doubt about it, Hamels is the true ace of this team. Unlike the other two “aces,” the Phils have, Hamels is in him prime. The Phils would be foolish not to sign him.

You can never have too much pitching.

Most Phils regulars are past their prime. The Phils are not going to win this year. They need to start building the team for 2013 and beyond.

Cole is just too much of a risk for 7 yrs like he wants. He is too likely to get hurt. Doc is smart and a very hard worker. That leads me to beleave his struggles are health wise. He’ll be back and has many more years left in him. Not at the same price after this contract though. We have seen the best days that Rollins, Polonco, Utley and possible Howard have. Get Victorino”s eyes checked. He seems to have problems picking up the ball. Might explain his ave. Pence is a carrer .300 hitter til her works for Gross and Charlie???

Huh?

The Phillies are getting back on track, but the division is tough this year. Even the Mutts think they can contend for a playoff spot. They battled the Phillies today. Gotta put them in their place this week.

Cole is interesting. If all he wants is money, kiss him goodbye. If, however, he wants a city he loves, and loves him, a team determined to compete each year, and one ready to treat him like an elite pitcher then Phila is for him. Sign him to 10 yrs 15 mill a year (150 mill total as apposed to 7 yrs 20 mil-140 mil) and have a clause where he can retire after 7 yers and get paid full amount. He’s making total of more then he’s looking for, but we keep him within budget.

As for the Number of years, don’t freak-if he’s injured he gets paid by the insurance in any case

LOL!!!

f-i-j, seriously. The weed must be really good in the Holy City. Pass that over here.

Come on FIJ! You can come up with a better post than this…

The curse of Ed Wade…

Do you mean because Ed Wade is working in some capacity with the Phils’ organization?

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