Is he the next Tim Lincecum? Can he pitch at all any more? Should he get sent to the minors?! Is he fantasy ownable in a 10-team league?! Is he really a doctor? Are Phillies fans all really that mean?! Why does being good in baseball mean you have to have the highest WAR!? WAR – what is it good for?! What does all this mean!?!
Roy Halladay has been one of the biggest hot topics heading into the fantasy season and real MLB season alike. After two brutal starts seeing his ERA climb close to the age of consent with a “woman” in France (14.73 – only 0.27 away!), the write-off for Halladay had become as frequent as an Enron tax return.
Curious to me was that debut against the Braves where Halladay got tagged for 5 runs and 9 baserunners in 3.1 innings, but struck out 9! That’s only one out not by the strikeout. All or nothing.
Obviously all the hubbub from Spring Training and entering the season was the lost velocity. I wanna throw fast! If you’re not first, you’re last. I was never big on Halladay because of his hefty price tag in drafts due to name value, but I thought he could be a usable pitcher this season. So I decided to tune into his start yesterday afternoon against those lowly Marlins to see how he looked. After all, if he can’t mow these guys down, he’s gotta be toast, right?
First Inning: Doc’s first pitch is a sinking fastball low to Juan Pierre 0-1. The next pitch is a fastball at the knees at 88 MPH, then Pierre slaps the next one opposite field that’s caught easily by Dominic Brown, 1 away. Man, Marlins Park is huge, not that that hit would’ve gotten down in another park, but it’s like looking at a battlefield in Braveheart. Halladay misses outside to Chris Coghlan at 89 MPH, then low and inside, 2-0. With 6 walks already in 7.1 IP heading into the game, any 2-0 count is nerve-racking. Halladay gets a fastball over right down the middle at 87 MPH that Coghlan weakly grounds to Chase Utley, two down. Doc is inside on former Phillie Placido Polanco, then way inside, again 2-0. That’s right, no Giancarlo Stanton means Polanco is your #3 hitter. Yikes. Halladay throws a split fastball that dips low, 3-0. That pitch still has monster movement on it. He gets one over 3-1, then Halladay hits 90-MPH on the outside corner that Polanco weakly dribbles to Ryan Howard and it’s a 1-2-3 inning.
Second Inning: Halladay’s first pitch to another former Phillie, Greg Dobbs, is a fastball way outside, 1-0. After an off-speed pitch is grounded foul, Halladay then blows an 89-MPH fastball high and on the outside corner past him, 1-2. Outside with the heater, then a barely breaking curveball is fouled off, then a 90-MPH fastball pretty close to right down the middle, maybe a fraction in, is pulled for a double bouncing right in front of the right field wall. That was a mistake about 8 inches too high and right in Dobbs’ wheelhouse. On the first pitch to Justin Ruggiano, he successfully lays down a bunt and it’s one down, runner on 3rd. Surprised the Marlins wouldn’t want to be more aggressive on the struggling Halladay, Ruggiano is a good hitter… Doc’s first offering to Rob Brantly is a curveball that looked like a strike but it’s ball one, then the same pitch a little higher is in there, 1-1. On the next pitch Brantly dinks a flare to Freddy Galvis at short that keeps Dobbs at third, two down. Halladay again starts with the curve to Chris Valaika that’s inside, then fastball low, 2-0. He gets a barely moving curve over 2-1, and a heater too far inside, 3-1. Halladay again goes with the curveball and gets it over 3-2, then a 3-2 fastball is hit out to Ben Revere right in front of the warning track, inning over on only 1 hit.
Third Inning: The first pitch to Adeiny Hechavarria is a fastball at 87-MPH over, 0-1. Halladay misses outside and the next one is a fastball on the outer edge singled between 1st and 2nd. Opposing pitcher Kevin Slowey shows bunt and Halladay is too high, then Slowey gets the next one down and successfully moves Hechavarria to second, one down. Halladay goes up on Juan Pierre, 1-0, then jams him on the hands and induces a pop out to Humberto Quintero behind the plate, two down. Halladay gets a nasty change-up over at 80-MPH to start Coghlan with a strike, then barley misses high with the curveball, 1-1. Halladay slings a fastball over at 90-MPH that Coghlan grounds to Utley and ends the inning. Halladay missed his spot a little there — Quintero wanted it outside but it ran in — but gets away with it.
Fourth Inning: Doc misses high with the four-seamer, 1-0 to Polanco, then the next fastball is laced up the gap for a single. Halladay misses with the curve to Dobbs, 1-0, then outside 2-0. Halladay goes to the change and Dobbs flies it opposite field to Brown, 1 down. Halladay begins Ruggiano with a fastball that is fouled off, then a hanging curveball to Ruggiano is pummeled to deep center and Revere catches it on the warning track. Probably a home run in Citizens Bank Park. Of course the Phillies announcers are saying, “You pitch to the elements where you are…” I say pssshhhawww, he got away with that one. Doc gets a fastball over then a curve to go up 0-2 on Brantly. Halladay again goes to the curve, this time the strikeout variety, a dandy at 78 MPH that dove down and Brantly was unable to check his swing for Doc’s first strikeout on the day.
Fifth Inning: Doc gets a strike over to Valaika, 0-1, then misses low with the fastball, 1-1. Halladay hangs a curve that’s fouled off, then a fastball is flied out weakly to right, 1 down. Halladay pulls the string on a nasty change-up to Hechavarria that’s swung on and missed, then again the change is taken for 0-2, with the next one a fastball grounded weakly to third, two down quickly. The fastball to Slowey is in there, then the next one fouled off, with a curveball at 77 MPH swung on and missed for his second K. 6 straight mowed down by Doc.
Sixth Inning: Finally with a run of support, Halladay gets a change over for strike one to Pierre. Pierre tries to bunt the next one down the first base side and Halladay fields it cleanly and throws him out easily. The first pitch to Coghlan is a fastball that’s grounded weakly to Utley, two down on three pitches. Polanco takes the first pitch low, then a fastball down the middle, 1-1. Then another solid change-up is grounded very weakly right back to Halladay for a 6-pitch inning. 9 straight retired.
Seventh Inning: Doc gets a fastball over for strike one, then Dobbs flies out to right, 1 down. Halladay is still only at 65 pitches. Halladay misses twice to Ruggiano, then he’s able to dump one over Utley for a bloop single. Doc misses high with the curve to Brantly then the next is fouled off, 1-1. Halladay misses low with the fastball, then barely outside at 88-MPH, 3-1. The next fastball tails outside and Halladay issues his first walk. Halladay starts Valaika with a curveball at the letters, 0-1, then Valaika weakly grounds the next one barely past Galvis at short and scores Ruggiano to tie the game 1-1. That could’ve easily been a double play, but squirts through. Runners still at first and second and the first pitch to Hechavarria is fouled off his foot, 0-1. Halladay misses 1-1, then a high curveball is laced to center field with Revere catching it pretty easily, and inexplicably Brantly ran to third and is doubled-up at second to end the inning. Poor, poor baserunning by Brantly gets Halladay out of the inning.
Eighth Inning: Still 1-1, Halladay sits at only 78 pitches and gets pinch-hitter Miguel Olivo to swing and miss, 0-1. Halladay misses inside, then throws a great tight curveball that dips low and outside that Olivo misses, 1-2. Halladay throws the same pitch, Olivo barely taps foul, then the next one is laced hard right to Dominic Brown who was playing back and he makes the catch in front of the track, one down. Halladay misses, then gets one at the knees of Pierre 1-1, then Pierre yanks the next one right to Ryan Howard, two down. The first pitch to Coghlan is grounded to Utley who makes a nice play for the out. With Halladay hitting 2nd in the top of the 9th inning, it ends his day, and it was a good decision as pinch-hitter Laynce Nix hit the homer to win the game in Halladay’s spot. Otherwise I think Doc would’ve gone complete.
Final Line: W 8.0 IP (87 Pitches) 5 Hits 1 Walk 1 Earned Run 2 Ks
Final Analysis: What a bounce back game for Halladay, who notched his 200th career win. Either learning how or accepting he must pitch to contact, Halladay had only two strikeouts, one to opposing pitcher Kevin Slowey and the other on a check swing. It wasn’t appearing he was trying to get them via the punchout like I’m guessing he did in that first start.
Halladay topped out at 90-MPH a handful of times, and looking at his velocity on FanGraphs, he’s only lost a few ticks since his prime. The change-up looked nasty all day, and the curveball he could use as a get-me-over early in counts and flashed it still has a devastating break when he needs it on that strikeout to Rob Brantly. The cut-fastball still had solid movement as well.
I would say Ruggiano’s deep fly ball probably would’ve been a homer if in Citizen’s Bank Park that would’ve scored two runs, but Valaika’s RBI single could’ve easily been a double play ball, so maybe a touch of luck with the help of Marlins Park, but nothing too dramatic. Needing only 87 pitches to complete 8 is very impressive and harkens back to Halladay’s prime years.
A lot of people were calling Halladay a drop in even 10-team standard mixed leagues. I think that’s a little ridiculous. Is he a round 8 or 9 starting pitcher either? Of course not. But if he was dropped in any of my leagues I would be pouncing right on him. If I could get a great buy low offer in, I would try to nab him as well, although after this successful start it might be a little tough. The strikeouts won’t be there, but the control looks solid and I think could be a 1.15 WHIP pitcher when it’s said and done. I probably bench him against some elite offenses (I’d be scared to play him against the Braves next time, for example), but he should be able to take care of most favorable matchups.