PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 25: Starting pitcher Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citizens Bank Park on August 25, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)
Roy Halladay earned a win in his return to Major League action against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday, his first action in four months following mid-season shoulder surgery. His post-surgery debut was a matter of necessity more so than a matter of rehab, thanks entirely to the 18 inning game on Saturday night that required the Phillies to call upon Sunday's regularly scheduled starter, Tyler Cloyd, to threw five innings of scoreless relief. As a result, Halladay - who was supposed to make his third rehab start in Reading - was activated for his first start in a Phillies uniform since May.
Prior to his start on Sunday, Doc had previously made starts for the Gulf Coast League Phillies (6 IP, 3 ER, 4 K) and the Lakewood Blue Claws (6 IP, 1 ER, 4K).
The verdict was a good one, as Doc allowed two runs over six innings, where he walked two and allowed four hits. He also struck out two batters. He threw 94 pitches, 55 of them for strikes. He never really found himself in too much trouble, and he kept the Diamondbacks off the board for the final four innings of his starter. His velocity, which was a concern earlier this year, hung around the high-80s, but he occasionally touched the low 90s according to the radar gun at Citizens Bank Park.
It will take some time before we know if Halladay's surgery will be able to allow him to return to the same dominating form that made him such a valued asset with the Phillies in 2010 and 2011, but Sunday's impromptu outing certainly was a bit encouraging. If there is a catch, it's that the Diamondbacks lineup isn't particularly challenging. Their .717 OPS is good enough for sixth in the National League, but aside from first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, there are no other real offensive threats. The only other D'Back with double digit home runs is Martin Prado (13), who also sports a .756 OPS.
Suffice it to say, the jury is still out on Doc. He looked good enough on Sunday afternoon, but I suppose the most encouraging thing about his outing is that he was even able to return to the mound this season following shoulder surgery. Only time will tell what the future holds for the veteran right-hander, who still needs to build up arm strength, much like he does during Spring Training.
As far as 2014 goes, Halladay's vesting option for $20 million is not going to kick in, which means he will be a free agent unless the Phillies opt to re-sign the right-hander to a short term, low-cost deal for one season, which makes his performance over the final month of the season all the more crucial.
Despite a late-inning rally for the Diamondbacks, the bullpen was able to preserve the 9-5 lead, as well as Halladay's third win of the season.