Stray Thoughts and Things On Halladay’s Season Debut

You’ll forgive me if you’ve (no doubt) read multiple dissections on other sites by this point in the day, but Roy Halladay’s season debut last night was just too strange to leave by the wayside. I have no idea if any of this means anything, I just found it all interesting, so enjoy my jumbled inventory as best you can.

First, ponder the raw line: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 9 K

Halladay recorded 10 total outs and nine were strikeouts. He’s the first pitcher to appear in any capacity and strike out nine while getting no more than 10 total outs. So, even just skimming the surface, things are already a little weird.

As we begin to cut down through the layers, we see things like this:

Pitch f/x data is unavailable for Doc’s spring starts, so I’m unsure if this is something that was purposefully put in place. I’d wager a guess that it wasn’t, but it’d only be a guess.

Halladay generated 14 swing-and-misses: six via changeup, five via curveball and three via cutter. Here they are mapped below:

swingandmiss

The majority of the whiffs were generated on pitches in good locations, but Doc did get away with three mistakes (as seen in the center of the map). The slightly larger mass toward the left edge of the plate denotes two whiffs: first-pitch cutters to Justin Upton (to start the at-bat in which he would later homer) and Jason Heyward (who would later strike out). The very center-cut pitch was a hung curve that rookie catcher Evan Gattis struck out on.

Jayson Stark added this observation:

Indeed, Halladay’s stuff still has plenty of movement. But with a lack of velocity (typically) comes an increasingly vulnerable fastball. Halladay threw 25 of his 95 pitches in hitters’ counts (compared with 35 while ahead and 35 with a level count).

  • Hitter’s Counts: 2 whiffs in 25 pitches (8 percent)
  • Pitcher’s Counts: 7 whiffs in 35 pitches (20 percent)
  • Even Counts: 5 whiffs in 35 pitches (14.3 percent)

Indeed, Braves hitters didn’t miss many of their opportunities when they surfaced. What’s more, Halladay seemed to lean on his cutter after he fell behind. Sixteen of the 25 hitter’s count pitches he threw were cutters, and they produced the following:

  • Five called strikes (three of those on 2-0 counts)
  • Three foul balls
  • Seven balls (including two that completed a walk)
  • One for a hit (Heyward’s single in bottom 1)
  • Zero swinging strikes

That’s 11 of 16 pitches (68.8 percent) for a neutral or negative outcome. When ahead, Doc could use his curveball (19 of 35 pitches) to produce this:

  • One called strike
  • One foul ball
  • 12 balls
  • One in-play out (Doc’s only one of the game, a groundout)
  • Four swinging strikes

That’s 13 of 19 pitches for a negative or neutral outcome, a rate nearly identical to (68.4 percent; but actually slightly worse) than the one above. Obviously, we’ve got nowhere near enough for any sort of “stable” sample on this front to compare, but Halladay’s opponents’ lines from against the curve in a pitcher’s count saw a tick up last season:

  • 2012: .168/.168/.224
  • 2011: .148/.155/.165

Something to keep an eye on, if nothing else.

It’s too early to tell if any of this is indicative of potential season-long trends, but given the spring we all just witnessed, this start wasn’t exactly the fear-assuaging outing we hoped it would be. At least the Ks were nice.

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12 comments

  1. AGH

    April 04, 2013 01:39 PM

    There’s plenty to worry about with Halladay, but did anyone else think the pitch that Upton hit out in the first was actually pretty decent?

  2. Jonny5

    April 04, 2013 02:04 PM

    Roy is not finished, opposing popular narratives.

    That’s what I gleaned from this performance. Sure he may not dominate like he has before, but many o pitcher has dealt with diminished velocity in the past and continued on with a lucrative baseball career. He will have to adjust. But his velocity from last night wasn’t so far off the mark that I can run around yelling he’s cooked, like the idiots running WIP seem hellbent on making people believe. I liked the movement he showed and the K’s were a nice touch, but he has to figure out how to go at least 4-5 innings next time out. The home run rate is what scares me the most. Atlanta isn’t exactly small, so it could have been worse in another park. Then again it’s one game and I’b be silly to say, “This is the new Roy.” We will see soon enough what he has in the tank.

  3. TomG

    April 04, 2013 02:31 PM

    I’m still trying to process last night’s game, but I don’t think I’ll ever succeed. At first I key on those 9 Ks in 3.1 innings; but then as soon as I start thinking about how poorly and unDoc-like Halladay’s performance was overall, my brainpan seizes up and returns an error message of “Your argument is invalid” because how could someone be both as dominant as those Ks would suggest yet still, by-and-large, suck? But he didn’t suck! Yes he did! No he didn’t! [Brain seizure: Error: Your argument is invalid. Reboot?]

    See what I mean.

    So instead I try to key on the nice moments, such as the way Chase Utley can still seem like he’s dominating – scratch that, still be dominant – with just one good at-bat out of four. To knock in two runs with a double then score from second on a swinging bunt? Only to have that run and that great base-running erased by a dubious call? (I had to watch the Braves feed last night for reasons I won’t go into, but suffice to say, they were giddy over that “great” and “accurate”. I hate those guys.)

    There were other nice things in last night’s game, but it’s been soooo long since we’ve seen this kind of classic Chase Utley greatness this early in a season that I have to savor it, even in a loss … and even though the run that was erased by that call would have been meaningless w/r/t the game’s outcome. Still, he did that. Still, I saw it. Still, it was soooo good.

    I assume that at some point, someone other than Utley will start knocking in runs, and I assume the Phils will win a game or two along the way, but until then, getting to see Chase Utley play Utleyball is reward enough.

  4. TomG

    April 04, 2013 02:33 PM

    ^^ *”great” and “accurate” call*

  5. pedro3131

    April 04, 2013 04:27 PM

    One of the most bizarre performances I’ve ever seen. On the one hand he was missing his spots, getting hit hard and looking tired and out of place. On the other hand, the batters were swinging and missing a lot. It should be an interesting year to say the least

  6. Andrew Cleveland Alexander

    April 04, 2013 09:13 PM

    I mean, it’s an obvious “other than that Mrs. Lincoln how was the play?” observation, but if you take out the first inning, Halladay wasn’t actually pitching so bad. One home run, which only just cleared the fence. Lots of strikeouts on pitches that made the Braves look stupid.

    Look, I’m not arguing that there’s not a lot to worry about here, but I’d be more worried if the first inning had happened in the 3rd, if that makes sense. It appears Halladay may have made an adjustment that allowed him to get guys out at least for an inning or two. Baby steps…

  7. GB

    April 04, 2013 09:56 PM

    The reality he had to throw 95 pitches to get 10 outs cannot be ignored…he was insanely inefficient and the normal Halladay is the opposite so something is clearly wrong. The question is can he work his way out/through it or is it more more evidence he is on the decline

  8. Ryan

    April 04, 2013 10:01 PM

    I hope it doesn’t take Charlie much longer to figure out that Galvis needs to take over for Michael Young when we have a lead late in the game. It was worrisome that he didn’t do that switch after having Galvis pinch hit tonight!

  9. Cheesecrop

    April 05, 2013 05:42 AM

    One of the most impt. things mentioned here was the fact that Halladay managed to get away w/mistakes in the zone. You can write off Gattis as rookie enthusiasm (if you want to), but it’s worth noting that the other two hitters were Upton & Heyward, who are no slouches.

    If he can still get away w/mistakes in the zone while re-making himself, & he’s doing it at big-league level,it means he still has a chance, be it here or someplace else.

  10. Chris

    April 05, 2013 02:14 PM

    I really think the bizarro performance says that Halladay himself is a little unsure of what to do. Unfortunately, it may take him a good portion of the season to fully “figure it out”, and we can’t afford that.

  11. Chris S.

    April 05, 2013 04:53 PM

    I happened to be at that miserable game. Which I was really excited about, but I just couldn’t make heads or tails about Halladay’s performance. It was great to see the 9 Ks in 10 outs, but at the same time he was wild all night long. It seemed like every batter went to a 3 ball count, that and the 3 Walks makes me believe that he was just plain struggling with command. However, I couldn’t tell if it was the weather that caused the lack of command or if he is not the same Halladay we once knew and loved, but it was freezing and rainy all night. I want see him pitch in better weather before making a ruling, but the swings and misses is definitely an encouraging sign.

  12. GB

    April 05, 2013 08:01 PM

    The weather is Florida during ST was not warm enough?

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