D-Day for Doc
Roy Halladay makes his 2013 debut tonight after a bad spring. I wrote yesterday that Monday’s loss to the Braves wouldn’t have caused such consternation in Philadelphia had this been 2010-11, when Halladay was at the top of his game. But following a poor 2012, everybody is anxious to see what he has left in his right arm.
But it is tough to be optimistic about Halladay, despite proclamations from Halladay, Rich Dubee, Ruben Amaro Jr. and others that everything is fine. (Privately, the Phillies are just as anxious as everybody else.)
Their message: Remain calm, all is well!
But is it? His velocity is down, although it ticked upward in his last couple spring starts. (That means hitting 90 mph once two starts ago, and 91 mph once in his last start.) His location hasn’t been there. He has been hit hard. He has had trouble throwing his cutter. He has labored. And he has offered numerous plausible explanations for those struggles: dead arm, lethargy after throwing an extra bullpen session in between starts, stomach virus, mushy mound, improperly rubbed baseballs, trouble finding a good grip for the cutter, throwing too much hard stuff to Minor League hitters, etc. Is he suddenly going to put everything together against a Braves lineup that showed what it can do against a pitcher that can’t locate, like Cole Hamels couldn’t on Monday? If Halladay is throwing 87-89 and he can’t locate it could be a very quick night for him. If he looks good, then everybody will exhale a little bit … at least until his next start. He’s going to have to string together a few good ones before I think everybody truly relaxes.
Note: Before anybody says, “There goes the media again, blowing things out of proportion.” Just remember, pretty much every scout in baseball — scouts the Phillies and every team employ to make multimillion dollar decisions on players — have expressed the same concerns about Halladay.
I could see something like 5 innings, 8 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts and 1 home run from him tonight. It is hard to say he will do better, considering he allowed 21 hits, 11 runs, nine walks, three home runs and struck out 16 in 16 1/3 innings in six Grapefruit League starts. And that doesn’t include the start he made against Triple-A hitters from Toronto, when he allowed 11 of 18 batters to reach base.