Is It Mental? Or Is This Just Halladay?
But Roy Halladay insists his problems are fixable. He allowed six hits, seven runs, three walks and one home run in four-plus innings last night in a 7-2 loss to the Mets. He has a 14.73 ERA after two starts. His poor start last night followed his poor start Wednesday in Atlanta, where he allowed five runs in 3 1/3 innings. That start followed a troubling spring training, which followed a mediocre 2012 plagued by injuries. Halladay said his problems are mostly mental at this point. He is pressing. He is trying too hard. Maybe. But it is highly unusual for somebody of his caliber to struggle like this. He just might be out of bullets.
No, he insisted, it’s mental.
“One of my biggest mentors, [sports psychiatrist] Harvey Dorfman, used to always tell me, ‘When you’re trying to catch a bird, if you’re flailing at it, trying to grab for it, you’re never going to catch it. You have to hold your hands out and let it land in your hands. And it’s the same way with pitching,” Halladay said. “Especially when you want something so bad you’d do anything to get it. But sometimes the best course of action is to prepare yourself and let it come to you. But it’s tough because you care about the game, you care about your teammates, you care about the fans, you care about the organization. You want it badly.”
The Phillies continue to maintain Halladay is healthy. If he is healthy, what is the plan then? To me the plan is obvious: continue to let him pitch. Putting him in the bullpen isn’t an option because he’ll get such little work he won’t be able to fix anything. I don’t see the Phillies coming up with a phantom injury and sending him to the minor leagues, either. I think they will continue to express their faith in him, giving him the respect he deserves and crossing their fingers like everybody else that this is just a bad stretch. They really have no other option. If they felt they had somebody to step in and pitch successfully at the beginning of the season, they probably wouldn’t have signed John Lannan to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. But they felt they lacked depth so they got him.
If the Phillies plan to win they need Halladay to pitch better. That is obvious. But that means they’ve got to give him a chance to fix himself. He’s owed that much.
They just hope it happens soon. Sometimes following one of Kyle Kendrick‘s starts, Charlie Manuel will say, “Kendrick pitched a Kyle Kendrick-like game tonight.” He means six innings and three or four earned runs. Not terrible. Not great, either. Competitive. Keeping the team in the game. Giving them a chance to win. You’ve got to think the Phillies would kill for a “Kendrick-like” game from Halladay. Because the only thing he is doing right now is burying them early and giving them no chance to win.