Roy Halladay Shelled Again; Is the End Near For the Ace?

By Mike Cardillo

What to make of Roy Halladay’s April?

The Phillies ace was rocked Tuesday night by the Indians, lasting just 3 2/3 after allowing eight runs and nine hits — three which left the yard. Philadelphia lost 14-2 despite the season debut of Delmon Young.

It marked the third time in April Halladay went four or less innings. In those three starts he allowed 20 earned runs, as his ERA stands at 6.75.

Halladay turns 36 on May 14, so naturally the question is how much does the two-time Cy Young winner have left in the tank? Is the end nigh for one of the game’s most consistent pitchers this century?

Adding a little more intrigue, his contract is up after the 2013 season with a $20 million option for 2014 that triggers if all these criteria are met:

  • 225 IP in 2013
  • 415 IP in 2012-13
  • Halladay is not on disabled list at end of 2013 season

Until last season Halladay had pitched four straight years with a sub-3.00 ERA, making him one the game’s best and more reliable starters, appearing to get better with age. Last year he threw only 156 innings as his ERA swelled to 4.49.

In his three other starts in 2013 Halladay has fared relatively well, albeit his best performance was a one-run, eight-inning showing on April 14 against the anemic Marlins. Still, Halladay followed that up with a two-hit, two-run outing over seven innings vs. the hard-hitting Cardinals.

Halladay is getting older. He’s always been known as a striker thrower, but when you’re around the plate and that velocity dips … it’s not good. (Analysis!) The average speed of Halladay’s cutter in 2013 via is 89 mph, two miles less than his career average. Opposing batters are slugging .800 against the cutter, too.

Also concerning is his loss of command. Dating back to the 2003 season Halladay’s highest walks total was 48. In his first season with Philly in 2010 he issued 30 free passes in 250 innings. This year he’s already walked 13 in 32 innings.

Add it all up and it means a lot of what  Halladay is able to get over now, is leaving the park.

It might be up to Halladay to adjust his approach and try to get batters out by guts and guile or anything else crafty righties do when they get older, save for rubbing Bardol onto the ball. His days of being a “true ace” might be over, but Halladay can still probably be effective at the back end of a rotation if you’re able to look past what the Phillies are paying him. Given his status in the game the last decade, nobody is going to give up on him overnight.

However it pans out, should make for a very fun summer on Philly sports Twitter.

[photo via Getty]