Twenty million dollars. That’s the main reason why the Philadelphia Phillies will give Roy Halladay, who is pitching in the last guaranteed year of his contract, every possible shot to succeed this season. However, if “Doc” carries his Spring Training struggles through April, he’s also bound to wind up in the bullpen at some point as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see Halladay instantly becoming some type of mop-up man. However, it’s plausible to believe that some type of “corporate speak” will be uttered along the way about how spending time among the relief corps will be good for all involved.
No one can predict the future with full accuracy. But, every baseball fan knows that a major league starting pitcher can’t survive by throwing the ball like this 199-game winner has so far this year.
This man isn’t going to magically regain between five and ten mph of velocity on his fastball. It’s possible that he might be able to recapture his command.
Time and the number of innings that Halladay has thrown during his 15-year major league career have taken a toll on his body. Every sabermetric sage can cease all digital digging right now, because it’s as simple as that.
Anyone who chooses to believe that this common sense analysis is an overreaction apparently didn’t see him try to ply his trade last year, or is afraid to accept the truth right now. Every great active middle-aged athlete approaches the professional cliff at some point.
Halladay might eventually be able to transform himself into a different type of starter who fools batters in modest ways. But, he’s never pitched without his setup fastball that formerly flew in a traditional low- to mid-90s altitude.
No longer the American League Cy Young Award winner with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2003. No longer the National League Cy Young Award winner with the Phillies in 2010. No longer the man who pitched a perfect regular season game and a no-hitter in his first career playoff game during that same Philadelphia season.
No. Halladay has become a mortal baseball man.
“Doc” is coming to grips with reality. He’s approaching this season like a true professional. So, don’t write him off, or think that his career is over yet.
Just prepare to see a permanently different version of someone who was the best major league starting pitcher for an entire decade.