Philadelphia Phillies' Playoff Chances Improve Without Roy Halladay

By Sean O'Brien
Derick Hingle – USA TODAY Sports

If Roy Halladay finds a way to pitch effectively, the Philadelphia Phillies will be better off than they are now. However, if “Doc” continues to operate (sorry) as he has since last season, Charlie Manuel’s squad will still be capable of making a playoff push.

Removing emotion, here’s why the latter scenario makes sense: Something has to give when the person who started the second game of the season has a 14.73 ERA through his first two games. It’s hard to imagine that Halladay’s replacement(s) would be worse than he’s been so far this year. If his labored efforts persist, Halladay’s slot in the starting rotation would be improved by his removal.

Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are both number 1 starters. Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan are decent number 4, or number 5 starters.

As long as general manager Ruben  Amaro, Jr. can find someone to pitch slightly better than Halladay did last season, the 2013 rotation should be improved. That’s not a simple task, but it’s also not impossible.

Mike Adams should secure the eighth inning and Jonathan Papelbon should continue to consistently save games.

Despite some early struggles, the variety of middle-inning options that Manuel has available should enable decent, but not great, sixth- and seventh-inning options.

Anyone who has seen the 2013 offense knows that it has the potential to be better than last season’s challenged bunch. Carlos Ruiz and Delmon Young aren’t yet available. But, their additions to the lineup should add even more punch when they arrive.

Numerous people within the organization recently gave Halladay their collective endorsement. However, there’s no doubt in any reasonable person’s mind that if this soon-to-be 36-year-old (May 14) veteran doesn’t turn everything around soon, that he won’t be allowed to remain in the starting rotation for long.

Since he and the organization continue to say that no health issues exist, a trip to the disabled list and resulting rehabilitation starts aren’t possible. That could change if he is actually injured, or if an enhanced version of reality is created along those lines.

If Halladay continues to pitch poorly, he could be moved to the bullpen in an attempt to temporarily reduce pitching pressure. That option would have it’s limitations, as he would have to eventually show some type of progress, even in a mop-up role. However, the chance to make a few subsequent starts would result.

Those individuals who seem convinced that Halladay is going improve his current performance are mixing their conclusions with memories of who he was, instead of looking at who he’s been for well over a year.

He posted a 4.49 ERA in 2012 and was only able to pitch 156.33 innings due to time spent on the disabled list with arm, shoulder and back issues. Arm, shoulder and back issues aren’t what veteran pitchers have when they’re ready to take a full-season stroll.

Halladay’s current double-digit ERA (albeit only containing two games of data) towers above the 10.64 ERA that he posted during 19 games when he was with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2000. He spent time in the minor leagues that season and in 2001, before he became the best pitcher in baseball from 2002-2011. But, that was then.

Even though it reads like baseball blasphemy, the Phillies seem more likely to make a playoff push if Halladay isn’t on this team.

Follow Sean on Twitter @SeanyOB, Facebook, Google+ and read his blog Insight.

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