Ten straight seasons as an opening day pitcher are coming to and end, and with the end of that streak may also come the end of Roy Halladay as a key part of the Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation.
For the first time in over a decade, Halladay won’t be toeing the mound on opening day, but rather it will be lefty Cole Hamels being handed the ball to open the Phillies 2013 season. While not getting the nod for the opener isn’t a huge deal in and of itself, the fact is that the Phillies are worried about Hallday and his effectiveness.
Halladay, who had been a model of consistency for both the Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays, is trying to come back from an injury plagued 2012 when shoulder weakness derailed his streak of seven seasons with a sub-four ERA and six seasons of 15-plus wins. The former Cy Young winner wasn’t himself beginning with last Spring, and this year things have gotten worse.
In Halladay’s last Spring outing against the Detroit Tigers, he surrendered seven runs, six hits and four walks in just 2 2/3 innings. Not the type of numbers the Phillies are accustomed to from “Doc” Halladay, and certainly the type of outing that was cause for concern from manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee.
“I would say there’s some concern, but most of it has to do with him having no tempo to his delivery,” Dubee told ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. “Nuances to delivery, guys fight that all the time.”
The velocity on Halladay’s once untouchable fastball has dropped to the mid-80s, and the issues with his mechanics may be a result of compensation for continued discomfort in his shoulder, even though Halladay denies any pain.
The Phillies brass can dismiss and excuse bad outings by Halladay all they want, but the fact is that 15 years in the major leagues, numerous injuries, and his age (36) are catching up with Halladay and he may never return to the form that the Phillies got when they signed Halladay in 2010.
Hallday can still be a winning pitcher for the Phillies, but he’s not going to be that ace who they can count on for a near guaranteed win each time he takes the mound.