Roy Halladay isn’t who he used to be, but are any of us? Rather than ask deeply philosophical questions, let’s try to determine why ”Doc” has become just another arm in the Philadelphia Phillies‘ rotation.
It’s impossible to believe, (yes, impossible) that one of the greatest starting pitchers of the past decade is going to magically transform himself into anything other than a guy who has reached the latter innings of his career. This determination avoids the emotion of hope. Instead, it centers upon the logic that’s linked to velocity and location.
A pitcher who has a decent fastball is able to keep most hitters off balance. Even the best hitters aren’t able to adjust to a breaking ball on the outside corner after they’ve just swung and missed at a heater on the inside part of the plate.
Professional hitters stay in “The Show” when they learn how to adjust to smart off speed pitches. Most big league players are also able to routinely hit balls that are thrown below 90 mph, if that’s all they see during an at bat.
Mound men who lack a power-pitch are able to rise to and then remain in the major leagues if they have developed pinpoint control.
In Halladay’s case, he used to throw a fastball that generally sailed in the low 90s. But, he dominated games because he had full command over a variety of off speed pitches that he developed to perfection during his career. Few pitchers ever held as many effective pitches in their repertories as he did.
The velocity of Halladay’s fastball this spring has generally been a few mph less than last season’s reduced range, which was in the upper 80s.
Since all reports state that Halladay isn’t currently injured, his lack of location directly relates to confidence. It’s understandable that “Doc” has been tentative, because he’s basically learning how to pitch with a different type of arm.
It’s completely speculative for Halladay, the Phillies, other teams, the “experts” or the fans to predict what he might be able to do this season. However, what can’t be denied is that a documented drop in velocity, due to past injury and age, has occurred. Therefore, it will be infinitely intriguing to see if he can quickly learn how to pitch a new ballgame.