About this time last year, Roy Halladay was tossing six shutout innings in a 4-0 blanking of the New York Mets, as the division champion Philadelphia Phillies prepared for their fifth straight trip to the playoffs.
What a difference a year makes. Tonight, Halladay was shelled for seven earned runs in a dismal 1.2 inning outing against the Atlanta Braves, with the Phillies desperately trying to stay with their heads above water in the fight for the final NL wild card spot.
The performance was arguably the worst of Halladay’s career – at least the worst since he became the Cy Young winning Halladay in 2003. Halladay walked the first batter of the game and gave up a three-run home run in the first inning, then walked two more and gave up a bases-clearing double in the second inning.
That finished his night, and when reliever Jeremy Horst promptly gave up a double with runners that were Halladay’s responsibility, Halladay was charged for a total of seven runs. That is the most Hallady had given up in a single game since a May start earlier this year, also against the Braves, when he was rocked for eight runs and 12 hits in 5.1 innings.
Halladay is now 10-8 with a 4.40 ERA through 24 starts, and he’s been charged with at least four earned runs in six of his starts. That’s after going 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA last season and 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA the season before. His strikeout to walk ratio has gone from an insane 7.30 in 2010 and 6.29 in 2011, both figures that led the National League, to 3.79 this season – still a very good figure but nowhere near what the Phillies have grown to expect from Hallday.
The Braves are certainly among the teams that have hit Halladay the hardest this season. He is 0-2 in four starts against the Braves with some pretty frightening statistics – 11.21 ERA in just 18.2 innings pitched, 30 hits, and 18 strikeouts to eight walks. But then again, Halladay hasn’t done well against anyone recently. He has a 5.74 ERA in his last eight starts with 56 hits and seven home runs allowed in 47 innings pitched.
Halladay has complained recently about shoulder soreness, and that has likely been directly impacting him in his recent outings. He’s 35, which means he’s certainly getting up there in age, but the hope is Halladay can rebound in 2013. Some time off should be good for him considering he seems to be pitching through pain. Halladay’s average fastball velocity has been down to 90.6, the lowest single-season mark of his career.
His batted ball statistics show he is getting hit around more than usual. Halladay’s line drive percentage against him is at 22.9 percent, over two percent worse than the next-worst season of his career. His ground ball rate, which hovered in the high fifties from 2002 to 2005 and mid-fifties from 2006 to 2008 and low fifties from 2009 to 2011 is down to just 45.2 percent in 2012, a ridiculous 5.7 percent drop from last year.
Halladay is in turn giving up a higher percentage of fly balls than ever before, as it’s up to 31.9 percent after he spent most of his career in the mid-twenties. Halladay has been hit for a .293 batting average on balls in play, which shows he really isn’t getting bad luck with the bounce of the ball or a sub-par defense behind him, considering the MLB average is between .290 and .310.
Halladay has also stranded fewer runners on base and he has been taken yard at nearly a rate of twice as many times as 2011.
Halladay enters the final year of his contract in 2013, a three-year, $60 million deal he signed prior to the 2010 season. There is a vesting option for ’14 but for the Phillies to be able to pick that up, Halladay has to throw at least 225 innings, which is a ridiculous total for a pitcher who will be 36 ½ years old by the end of next season.
For the Phillies to be able to get the absolute best results out of him next year, they need a well-rested and healthy Halladay heading into 2013. And with the Phillies four games out with 10 to play, they would need a miracle to make the postseason anyway. Let’s not further exploit Halladay if he is already dealing with shoulder fatigue – sit him down and let him rest.