One of the things that we've been keeping our eyes on this spring has been the performance of Roy Halladay. Specifically, we've been watching his velocity as he looks to rebound from a rough 2012 season. Early on, things looked promising for the 35-year-old hurler, as his fastball was clocked as a respectable enough level through his first starts during the spring. It was enough to make the fans shrug off his performance from 2012, as it appeared that maybe his struggles last season were the result of injury, and not the result of age catching up with his body.
Unfortunately, those concerns reared their ugly head on Tuesday afternoon, when Halladay got knocked around by the Detroit Tigers, who put seven runs up on the board on a pair of homers in two and two-thirds innings. To boot, Halladay's typically pristine control was nowhere to be found, resulting in four walks.
And as he walked off the mound, the fans could only wonder whether or not 2012 truly was the beginning of the end for Doc.
I've said before, but everything that happens during Spring Training should be taken with several grains of salt, because it's basically just an extended series of practices strung together over six weeks. And yes, it's possible that Tuesday's outing was just one of those bad outings that starting pitchers have to deal with every now and again. But then again, it's also possible that the reason he struggled so much was because he is only capable of throwing batting practice at this point.
A big reason for that is because Halladay's velocity does not appear to be improving with each start, something that typically happens as starting pitchers get stronger over the course of the spring. In Tuesday's start, Halladay reportedly topped out at 88 MPH, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, who also reported that Halladay is pinning his struggles on a new conditioning routine that has left him feeling lethargic prior to his start on Tuesday.
Whatever the case may be, we can only hope that he gets it figured out before April, because if there is one thing that the Phillies have going for them, it's the strength in the top of their rotation. Without Halladay at full capacity, the Phillies are considerably weaker and would not be able to go toe-to-toe with the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves in the division. The silver lining is that Roy Halladay at 70% is still very, very good.
It's possible that Tuesday's start is just a funk, but given his inability to improve his velocity over his last two starts, it's beginning to look more and more like we've seen the last of the Roy Halladay that dominated the National League east in 2010 and 2011. Am I pushing the panic button yet? No, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about it.