When Roy Halladay underwent surgery midway through the 2013 season to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, all indications were that he would be able to come back stronger and more effective than he had been in the past few years.
In fact, optimistically, doctors said that the surgery could bring Halladay back to the level he was pitching at a few years ago, which would mean he’d be in Cy Young form.
Fans of Halladay took the doctors’ words as law and refused to believe that Halladay would be anything other than his old self when he returned. And while optimism reigned supreme, Halladay’s doubters saw the realistic side of the equation.
They saw what the diehard Halladay supporters refused to see: what if Halladay struggled this year not because he was hurt, but because he is declining?
This is a tough question to ask for many reasons because as recently as two short years ago, Halladay went 19-6 with a career-low 2.35 ERA and career-high 220 strikeouts. But then in 2012, the decline really hit sharply as Halladay battled injuries and a slowing fastball.
Uncharacteristically, Halladay’s command suffered as well, as he finished the season with his worst WHIP since 2007 .
It happened so abruptly that it didn’t seem like a decline at first. But in 2013, the pattern continued and now, it should be forcing fans to see Halladay without those rose-colored glasses. Whether gradual or not, Halladay is in the twilight of his career and very well could be nearing his final days.
With young arms coming up in spades for the Philadelphia Phillies, it is hard to see a scenario in which they would bring back Halladay. The team also just announced the signing of the Cuban phenom Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
He is expected to start in next year’s rotation, and projects as a No. 2 or No. 3 with a high-velocity fastball and a full arsenal of breaking pitches. Permitting the team doesn’t opt to trade Cliff Lee in the offseason, the rotation could look like this:
No. 1 — Cole Hamels
No. 2 — Cliff Lee
No. 3 — Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
No. 4 — Kyle Kendrick
No. 5 — Jonathan Pettibone/Adam Morgan/ Jesse Biddle
Now you could argue Kendrick’s roster spot as he too has struggled this season. You also could argue the fifth starter as any of the listed names could fill in there nicely. What you can’t argue, however, is that the Phillies do not have a spot in that rotation for a 36-year-old Halladay with declining stuff and a 7.94 ERA.
It really is as simple as that.
That is not to say that Halladay won’t make another team, but ultimately, he is at the point of his career where he needs to take on the U.S. Marines motto: improvise, overcome and adapt.
Like Jamie Moyer, Halladay doesn’t have to throw heat to be successful. He just needs to worry about his location which unfortunately for him, has been off and doesn’t seem to have recovered as expected post-surgery. But if he can improvise and adapt, there is reason to believe Halladay might have a few more years left in him.
Those years though, won’t be with the Phillies.