Father time has finally caught up with Roy Halladay and it is time for Phillies fans to panic about the ailing pitcher.
In his first 2 starts of the regular season Roy already has a 14.73 ERA. He already has permitted 19 base runners in 7 1/3 innings over his first two regular-season starts. I know its still very early but his pitching woes have not just happened during the 2013 regular season.
This spring Roy did not pitch well either. Roy produced a string of shaky outings in Clearwater, ending Spring Training with an ERA of 6.06. He also allowed 21 hits and nine walks in 16 1/3 innings in Spring Training. Even Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he was “concerned” with Roy during spring training.
Roy suggested that his woes are due to mental problems. After his start he told Philly.com, “I would say 95 percent is mental. It’s simplifying. It’s getting to the basics. It’s letting things happen and trying to force things.” Roy obviously thinks that his poor start is due to mental issues but scouts say signs suggest otherwise.
Roy’s progression downward started in the 2012 regular season when he was plagued by a back strain mid-season. The back strain caused him to miss 2 months of the season and when he came back he did not pitch at a high level. After the strain he recorded a 4.93 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 14 starts. By the end of the season he had a 4.49 ERA, which was his lowest ERA in 14 years.
One of the most evident signs that suggest that his problems are more than mental is because of his fastball velocity. In 2012 his fastball averaged 90.5 mph now in his past 2 starts his fastball has only averaged 89.3 mph. In his career Roy’s fastball average is 92.2 and as you can see his velocity is slowly decreasing. The worry for Roy is that he tends to overpower hitters and if his best pitch is not working his struggles will only get worse.
Another sign that Roy is slowly dropping out of his Cy Young form is his arm slot. Roy’s arm slot is much lower in this season than anytime in his career. A lower arm slot affects the angle on pitches and it allows hitters to make more contact and hit less ground balls.
The Phillies are currently paying Roy 20 million dollars for this season. But for his 2014 option to kick in he must pitch 225 innings this year. Lets be honest he is not going to hit that quota, he will be lucky to pitch 150 innings this entire year. The Phillies could resign Roy next year but another option would be for the Phillies to trade Roy before he officially tanks. Roy still has limited value but he stills has a terrific resume and leadership. With the Phillies depleted farm system any prospects we could get out of Roy would be well received.
There are still members in the front office that still have confidence the Roy will bounce back. Ruben Amaro the GM for the Phillies said he believes in Roy Halladay and he will be given all the time he needs to bounce back. It’s a good thing that the Phillies organization still has confidence that Roy can bounce back but if Roy continues his struggles the team should consider letting him fix his mechanics in the minors.
One way Halladay could bounce back is to change his style of pitching. Roy has been pitching as a power pitcher for most of his career using his fastball as his best pitch and complimenting it with his cutter and sinker. Now with his fastball not nearly as fast as it once was he now needs to find a different way to get hitters out.
Maybe the most successful pitcher at finding a way to get hitters out even without high velocity is Jaime Moyer. Jamie Moyer was the master at controlling the ball and using all of his pitches effectively, his style of pitching allowed him to pitch till he was nearly 50 years old. Jaime located the ball with precision and he used all his pitches to keep the batters off balance. Jaime’s strength was his control, that is what Roy needs to do use control effectively instead of trying to overpower hittings with his currently weak fastball. If Roy converts into a “control” type pitcher who does not rely on his fastball, he will be a good pitcher for a number of more year. But as of now if he keeps pitching like he has been, any major league team is going to crush him at the plate and Roy will not have much more time left in the league.