Roy Halladay turned in his first gem of the season on Sunday, when he pitched eight shutout innings against the Miami Marlins en route to the 200th win of his career. After failing to make it past the fourth inning in his first two starts, the right-hander cruised through eight innings against the Fish, where he allowed one run on five hits and one walk. He struck out two.
It was the first time this season that Halladay didn't look totally lost on the mound, something that was evident from the jump, for a couple of reasons. First, his control – something that he appears to have lost in his previous starts – was there, as 58 of his 87 pitches were thrown for strikes.
Second, his velocity was the lowest it's been all season. While he touched 90-91 during his first two starts, he sat around 87-88 MPH on Sunday afternoon. Correlation does not equal causality, so we can't come to any definitive conclusion here, but it's pretty easy to see a relationship between his lower velocity, his improved control, and his eight innings of one-run ball.
The caveat of all of this is that the Marlins have an absolutely dreadful lineup, so it's not like his start on Sunday is any sort of a good barometer for success. That's not to suggest that we should ignore the performance outright, but it's important to put Roy's success into context. After all, the Marlins did score all of four runs during the entire series against the Phillies and were without their best hitter in Giancarlo Stanton, so it's not as if Halladay had to navigate a Major League lineup.
Still, it was a very good start from a pitcher that is going to need to have more of those if the Phillies are going to have a shot at competing in 2013. The question, now, is whether or not he can replicate that success going forward against better hitting teams. Very few lineups are as bad as the Marlins of Miami, so it will be very interesting to see how his lower velocity approach plays against the likes of the Atlanta Braves or the Cincinnati Reds.
Following the game, Halladay was presented with a bottle of champagne from the Phillies commemorating his 200th career victory. The veteran, not one to put himself above the team, responded in true Doc fashion, according to CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury:
“The personal milestones are great. My sons, my wife, my family -- they’re all excited about it, but for me the goal is to get to the playoffs and win a World Series. When that happens I’m going to go in the back room and yell.”
That's absolutely what we have come to expect from Halladay, who is as professional as anyone in the game. And if Sunday's gem of a start was the first of many, then he might just get his wish.