Roy Halladay, ‘Doc’, is sick (I’m clever). The once-remedy (so clever) for any fantasy pitching staff, Halladay is riding an ugly, fatigue-ridden wave of ineptitude and disappointment. After a commonplace 19-6, 2.35 ERA season in 2011 for the Philadelphia Phillies, Halladay accrued an 11-8 record, a 4.49 ERA, a halved SO/BB rate, and a DL stint in 2012. And now, despite all the people who anticipated a resurgence — this is the guy who was famously sent down to high-A, recreated himself as a pitcher, then came back awesome — by drafting him in the first six or seven rounds, Halladay has spit a terrible spring and disconcerting beginning to the 2013 regular season.
As fantasy players, we of course must then ask the question: what’s next?
Well, the answer all comes down to two discordant theories: it’s Doc Halladay, he’ll bounce back; he’s aggregated too many innings and too many years, he’s done.
They teach us fantasy players to play the numbers and not the names. Just like how Derek Jeter being Derek Jeter doesn’t necessarily make him a prime fantasy shortstop, just because Roy Halladay used to be fantasy’s best pitcher doesn’t mean that he still is. As I’m sure you know, there’s only one thing that is guaranteed to erode a player’s skills. Just like how Jeter’s broken ankle is taking as long to heal as Robert Griffin’s torn ACL, the Doc doesn’t have the ability to revamp his repertoire, pitching style, mechanics, and arm strength during his age-36 season. Getting old sucks.
Let’s play the eye test mixed in with some simple math game, if that is such a game. Anyone who’s watched New York Yankees workhorse CC Sabathia over the years will confidently tell you that today’s CC is not the CC who was picked up midseason by the Milwaukee Brewers and subsequently led that team during a playoff run. Back then, CC was spinning shutouts (five in 2008) and striking out 250 batters. Now it’s a struggle to get through the first two innings unscathed and considered a success if he can manage 7 IP 4 ER. He’s not scary anymore (now this is deep analysis).
As a reference point, CC’s thrown 2822.2 professional innings. Halladay’s thrown 3335.2 and is four years older than Sabathia.
From 2011 to 2012, with arm problems in between, Halladay’s WHIP rose scarily 1.040 to 1.222 — a rise from superior efficiency to mere mediocrity — while his 3-pitch-strikeout total (a number I like to use to determine how dominant a pitcher can be) decreased from 52 to 24.
You could say that Halladay is a victim of a sky-high .474 BAbip in 2013, but then you’d see an 8% increase in line-drive percentage from last year, and a 9% increase from 2011. Perhaps .474 is still too exaggerated — and it is — but you can also expect a relatively high BAbip throughout the rest of the season. BAbip isn’t all luck; people hit the ball hard for a reason. You might also cite Halladay’s nine strikeouts in his first start of this season, but it’s clear that his skill-set is declining and he’s relying on fooling hitters rather than overpowering them, which is sometimes a recipe for total meltdowns like the one April 3.
As someone who consistently moved between New York and Florida, I’ve seen my fair share of spring training Halladay starts in Clearwater, and that edge that used to perturb and intimidate hitters isn’t there anymore. Hitters are more confident, swinging at more pitches, and are able to handle the pitches they hit more easily.
Before, I said there were two arguments about Halladay. The first one was that Halladay is Halladay and will return to his old self. I mean, you could be right (although I don’t think you are) but the Phillies have many more — about 20 million — reasons to wait around for Halladay to reform. As a fantasy owner, your reasons might not be in such plenitude.
He might be worth a stash in large-roster leagues or very-deep leagues, but if you’re in a 10-team standard league, I confidently say he isn’t worth a spot on your roster. Drop with confidence, because even if he does bounce back somewhat, he has limited upside.