What the New Roy Halladay Looks Like

Following last night’s 3-2 loss to the Nationals, CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury described what Roy Halladay looked like on the mound early in his start. It’s a bit depressing:

Back then, he carved up hitters with a lively fastball that he could cut or sink away from the barrel of a bat. When he stood on the mound, he looked like the baddest man in town, his shoulders broad, his neck strong.

The life on Halladay’s fastball is gone now, maybe never to return. Physically, he no longer looks like the baddest man in town. He is thinner. Truth be told, he looks gaunt. Where once his uniform top fit snugly over his strong shoulders, it now appears to hang off him as if it belongs to his big brother.

His fastball routinely sat in the low- to mid-90’s, but now averages in the mid- to high-80’s, touching 90 MPH every now and then when he has enough mustard.

I broke Halladay’s 2013 into two groups, before and after his injury and compared them to his 2011 season, the last time he was in top form. This really illustrates how far he has fallen. First, some of the result-based stats:

Pitches PA K% BB% BABIP wOBA
2011 3466 933 23.6% 3.8% .305 .253
Thru 5/5/13 626 155 22.6% 11.0% .273 .364
Since 8/25/13 270 76 10.5% 11.8% .231 .335

Stats based on the strike zone and how he has affected hitters:

Swing% Miss% Strike% In Play% Zone% Chase% ClStk%
2011 50.1% 24.2% 68.7% 38.8% 50.8% 33.9% 37.2%
Thru 5/5/13 41.4% 26.6% 58.6% 38.2% 48.6% 19.3% 29.4%
Since 8/25/13 40.0% 15.7% 59.3% 50.9% 45.6% 26.5% 32.1%

Because Halladay is around the strike zone less often, hitters aren’t as anxious to swing at pitches like a cutter in on the hands or a back door curve. When they do swing, Halladay hasn’t had the stuff to make them miss.

In 2011, Halladay held hitters to a .253 wOBA, which is the pitching equivalent to turning every hitter into Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (.253) or Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. In 2013 overall, hitters have posted a .355 wOBA against him, which is equivalent to Orioles outfielder Adam Jones or Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown.

Halladay still has a few more starts left in 2013 to show improvement. If the current schedule holds, he will face the Padres at home on the 11th, the Marlins at home on the 16th, the Mets at home on the 22nd, and the Braves in Atlanta on the 27th. If the Phillies have any intent to bring Halladay back on a one-year, incentive-laden deal, they would need some assurance that the 36-year-old (he’ll be 37 next May) can still hit the strike zone with regularity, as it’s ostensibly the only tool he has left in his eroding arsenal. If he can’t even do that, then he simply cannot consistently compete with Major League hitters.

As they say, all good things must come to an end and unfortunately we may be witnessing the waning days of Halladay’s career. Even Hall of Famer Steve Carlton, arguably the best left-handed pitcher in baseball history, was a shell of his former self after the 1984 season. From 1985-88, after which he retired, Carlton posted a 5.21 ERA over 570 innings with the Phillies and four other teams. Halladay is still pitching for pride and to tack on a few more stats to what is currently a borderline Hall of Fame career.

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