Well, what do you know — it looks like the real Doc has stood up.
Then again, maybe Roy Halladay never truly went away. The Philadelphia Phillies ace is, after all, one of the best pitchers of his generation, and despite his much-publicized struggles in Spring Training that turned into a disastrous start (12 ER, 7.1 IP over two starts), his message was consistent.
Halladay was fine, and was just figuring out how to get past the problem of reduced velocity.
In typical Doc fashion, it didn’t take him very long to figure out the problem.
Just ask the Pittsburgh Pirates, who probably thought they were well on their way to a loss after being dominated by the 35-year old for the majority of the game. Halladay allowed just a single run through his six innings of work, though that crooked number was lucky to be there as he stuck out eight and allowed just one hit on the day — a softly hit RBI single off the bat of Pedro Alvarez in the fourth inning.
It should have been good enough to earn his third-straight win, but alas, he had to settle for a tough no-decision after the Phillies bullpen failed to do their job late in the game.
On the plus side, the team should be happy with the fact that the Doc is in fact alive and well, and has returned to his office. No, the velocity hasn’t returned (two-seamer averaging 89.8 mph according to PITCHf/x), but he’s learned to pitch with it, mixing things up by using his cutter less (19.5 percent in 2013 vs. 40.2 in 2012) and his changeup more (5.8 percent vs. 1.8).
The results? A 21-inning stretch with a 1.29/0.66 ERA/WHIP, including two straight games of two hits or less.
While it’s doubtful that Halladay will be able to carry this kind of dominance through the rest of the year, the three-game run does chase away the biggest concern that the Phillies have had about their $20 million man for quite some time now.
Is there any of the old Doc left in Roy Halladay? The answer is an unequivocal yes.