To Roy Halladay, On Win 200
Win Number One
September 27, 1998. A 21-year-old Roy Halladay makes his second Major League start. He had entered the season as a top-50 prospect, according to Baseball America, but a rough showing in the upper levels in 1997 had pushed his stock to slip a bit. Really, ’98’s showing in Triple-A wasn’t exactly the most awe-inspiring effort, either, as Doc posted a 3.79 ERA with 71 strikeouts to 53 walks in 116.1 IP. Following up a no-decision debut against the then-fledgling Devil Rays, Halladay took the mound against a Detroit Tigers lineup that featured Tony Clark, Bobby Higginson and future Diamondbacks hero Luis Gonzalez.
Halladay recorded 26 outs without allowing a hit before Higginson cracked a solo homer. The no-hitter was gone, but the Blue Jays had provided him with two runs of support, and so the victory was his after out number twenty-seven, Frank Catalanotto, was recorded.
Win Number Thirteen
July 16, 2000. The last win Roy Halladay would record in a season that would stand for 12 years as the worst, at least as far as ERA goes, by a starter in Major League history. The six-inning, three-run effort lowered his ERA at the time to 10.90. It would settle only a fraction lower at season’s end, dropping to 10.64, although it could have been far worse, had any of the seven runs he allowed in 0.2 IP in his final start been earned.
Something had to be done. Doc was demoted to Single-A that season, where he worked with the late Mel Queen to turn his career around. And something began to click.
“The first day it was good. And the next couple of days it just got more comfortable and more consistent,” Halladay said to Sports Illustrated in 2010. “It just made it so much easier to move the ball.”
Win Number Fifty-Nine
September 27, 2003. Five years to the day after his first Major League win, Halladay notches his 22nd win of the ’03 campaign. The complete game capstone was his fifth of the month, a month which included a 10-inning shutout against the Tigers three weeks prior. The four earned runs allowed pushed his ERA to 3.25, but the 22-7 record, Major League-best 266 innings and 1,071 batters faced were enough for voters to award him the hardware comfortably over Esteban Loaiza of the White Sox.
Win Number One Hundred
May 31, 2007. Entering the year with 95 wins, Halladay raced out of the gate to a 4-0 record and a 2.28 ERA after April. Clunkers against the Rangers and Red Sox in his next two starts were out of character, but it was revealed soon after that Doc had been battling appendicitis for some time and needed surgery. The 100th win would have to wait.
Back from the disabled list and less one (1) appendix, Halladay threw seven shutout innings against the White Sox for his fifth win of the season and the century mark-cresting win of his career.
Win Number One Hundred Forty-Nine
April 5, 2010. In his first start as a newly-acquired member of the Phillies, Halladay opens the 2010 season with seven innings, nine strikeouts and one run allowed over 88 pitches against the Washington Nationals. Halladay would finish a start with his ERA above 2.50 just once that season: the second-to-last outing of the season, when he allowed three runs over seven innings against the Braves. That start, coincidentally, was his 20th win of the ’10 season. His next and final start of the regular season was a two-hit shutout of the Nationals that locked up the Phils’ fourth
straight division title.
Win Number One Hundred Fifty-One
May 29, 2010. Before the Phillies would lock up that division title, Halladay would add another bit of panache to a season that saw plenty of it. Playing in a desolated Marlins stadium, whose sponsor at the time would be impossible to decipher, Halladay tossed and twirled and spun his way to one of the standout performances of his decorated career: an 11-strikeout perfect game, the 20th in Major League history.
It was a sublime performance against a subpar lineup, exactly the kind of thing you expected Roy Halladay to do. It only seemed surprising that it had taken Doc this long to actually throw a no-hitter of any variety. That start, coupled with the playoff no-hitter of the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS and the capture of his second Cy Young Award, serve as the crown jewels of Halladay’s time as a member of the Phillies.
Win Number One Hundred Ninety-Two
May 17, 2012. Halladay throws eight innings of three-run ball against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The start lowered his ERA on the season to 3.22, but few were aware of the trouble that was lurking beneath the surface, only to rear its head two starts and two losses later, when Doc would leave his start against the Cardinals after facing 11 batters with a lat strain. Record-wise, Halladay would go 7-3 after he returned from the DL on July 17, but his ERA in that stretch of starts was 4.93 and he often resembled little more than a shell of the pitcher fans across the game had come to recognize as the indomitable force atop the pitching rubber.
Nevertheless, that 7-3 run pushed Halladay’s win total to 199 as the 2012 season went from dusk to night.
Win Number Two Hundred
Halladay has perhaps only faced adversity quite like this once before, albeit under totally different circumstances. Following his demotion in 2000, Halladay worked to reinvent himself not out of necessity due to injury, but because of survival. First-round pick or not, players don’t last in the Majors with ERAs above 10. And so Halladay worked, emerging in 2001 a changed hurler: more efficient, more powerful, more dominant.
In 2011, injury was the catalyst for a second necessary reinvention. Thirteen years later, Halladay would need to adapt once more. That adaptation may still be a work in progress, but for one outing on the afternoon of April 14, 2013, Roy Halladay seemed to be back, the visage of days gone by evident in a few curveballs, some cutters, a smattering of changeups. He wasn’t completely back to his halcyon era, and truth be told he may never be, but in as appropriate a fashion as any baseball fan could have hoped, Halladay grabbed win number two hundred in a vise grip and refused to relent, yielding only to the pinch-hitter that would eventually buoy him to said win in Laynce Nix.
Eight innings, five hits, one run, one walk and two strikeouts against a struggling lineup. Vintage? Perhaps not exactly, but Sunday afternoon was a reminder not of what Roy Halladay is now but all that he has been; the man who worked so hard to get more than just win number 13.
He’s the 109th man to crest 200 wins, and today is his.