For much of last season, and then much of spring training, most folks wondered whether or not Roy Halladay was a dead man walking. After an injury rough 2012 campaign and a March that didn't instill confidence in any one, Halladay didn't make the best first impression in 2013.
After two poor starts to kick off the season, it looked like it might be a rough year for Halladay, who allowed 12 earned runs in less than eight innings of work over this first two starts. But since he got shelled by the New York Mets on April 8, the right-hander has been all sorts of good. After winning the 200th game of his career against the Miami Marlins, Doc handled the hard-hitting St. Louis Cardinals a week later, where he allowed a pair of runs in seven innings for his second win of the season.
He looked good against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night, where he allowed one run on one hit and a pair of walks. He struck out eight on the night, and threw 57 of his 95 pitches for strikes in the no-decision as the bullpen gave up four runs in a 5-3 loss.
Granted, he was pitching against the Pirates -- an organization not known for winning -- but you can't take anything away from his performance. After allowing a leadoff walk to start the game, Halladay settled down and didn't allow a baserunner until the fourth inning, when he issued a two-out walk to Garrett Jones. After hitting Neil Walker with a pitch, Jones came around to score on a base hit from Pedro Alvarez, who registered the first Pirate hit of the night.
It was the last time the Pirates would reach base against Halladay, who set down the next six batters in order before being pulled for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth inning.
For my money, it was the most Doc-like that Halladay has looked all season. He was controlling his pitches, his velocity was good, and he never really appeared to get flummoxed on the mound -- something that appeared to escape him in his first two starts of the season.
Since his second start of the season, Doc has been an completely different pitcher. He has a 1.71 ERA in 21 innings in three games, with 16 strikeouts and five walks. He is 2-0 in that span, and all three times out, he has put the Phillies in a position to walk away with the W.
Is the Roy Halladay that we all know and love back? It's really hard to say, because baseball is a funny game, and this wouldn't be the first time that a player fooled everyone into thinking he was something else for a few games. It's definitely an improvement over what we saw from Doc during the spring and in his first two starts, but our expectations have to be tempered, at least a little bit.
Doc will have a chance to keep it going next week, when he faces off against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday.
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