Long Odds for Halladay
Roy Halladay spoke optimistically yesterday about his chances to pitch again this season, but optimism and reality don’t always go hand in hand.
That holds especially true when the pitcher turns 36 next week and has thrown 2,721 2/3 innings in the big leagues and 641 innings in the minor leagues. Cliff Lee stated the obvious Monday, when he said Halladay has fired a lot of bullets. And then came some troubling statistics provided by the folks at Fangraphs, regarding pitchers Halladay’s age with shoulder injuries.
In short, it’s not good.
Players over the age of 35 that went on the DL for any sort of shoulder injury only averaged 59 innings over the course of the rest of their career. So if Roy Halladay pitches 60 innings next year, he’ll be ahead of the game.
There are worse ways to slice the numbers. Of the 62 old pitchers that have gone on the DL for a shoulder injury since 2002, 32 never pitched another inning. 44 of them never managed 50 innings over the rest of their careers. A grand total of six starting pitchers managed more than 100 innings — John Smoltz (106), Pedro Martinez (153.2), Kenny Rogers (173.2), John Burkett (181.2), Tim Wakefield (424.1), and Orlando Hernandez (438.1).
I have referred to Halladay as the Terminator because he is machine-like, never tiring, always working, continually trying to find ways to win. He really is that intense. He really does work that hard. I remember waiting a long time to speak with him following a poor start in San Francisco on April 26, 2010. While we waited we wondered if Halladay was not doing his typical postgame workout, but flogging himself instead for a subpar performance. But the reality is Halladay turns 36 next week and has thrown a lot of pitches. If I had to bet on anybody overcoming them, I’d bet on Halladay. But the odds are incredibly long as the numbers show.
Either way, it will be interesting to watch. Can he come back this season? If he does, what kind of team will he come back to? The Phillies could be in the thick of the postseason hunt or a shell of the team that opens a four-game series tonight in Arizona.
“It’s no secret, we all know how hard Roy works and what he means to this team,” Chase Utley said. “Clearly, we’re not only playing for ourselves, but we’re playing for him as well.”