For almost any dominant Major League Baseball player, there will come a stretch where they eventually start to decline. Whether it’s a pitcher’s declining velocity, a batter with slower hands at the plate or even losing range on the field. There’s one specific player this year that I’m curious if he’ll be able to rebound, and that’s Roy Halladay.
If you want to know the cliff notes, of how I think Doc will do this year, I already made the prediction that he will finish in the top-10 in the NL CY Young voting. Although it might sound crazy (nobody gets every preseason prediction right), I do think Halladay will ultimately put together a very successful campaign this year.
Of course there’s several concerns for Halladay, such as his declining velocity (touched 92 MPH once during his first start, but was regularly in upper 80s) and lack of command of his sinker. Normally I’d say that means it’s the beginning of the end for someone who is 35 years old and has pitched almost 2700 innings in his career. But you have to realize, a lot of pitchers aren’t nearly as good as Halladay.
First, a short history lesson. Halladay came up through the Blue Jays organization as a hard thrower, who threw significantly more over the top than his current arm slot. Struggling to find consistent success, he eventually lowered his arm and changed his mechanics. In doing so, he became one of the most dominant pitchers in Major League Baseball from 2002-2011. If a guy is smart (not to mention talented enough) to change his mechanics once he’s already made it to the major leagues, it’s hard to bet against him finding a way to figure out how to be successful once again.
Although his 2012 wasn’t great (11-8, 4.49 ERA), people have to realize that he was struggling with several injuries. If he’s back to near 100 percent (I don’t know how many baseball players in their mid to late 30s are ever 100 percent healthy), he should be able to be much more consistent with his mechanics.
During his first start of the 2013 season, Halladay showed that he still has what it takes to get batters out. Although he lasted only 3 and 1/3 innings, he was able to record nine of the ten outs via strikeout. Sure, he left a few sinkers up in the zone, and the Braves made him pay for those, but not only do most teams not have nearly as powerful of a lineup as the Braves, but Halladay will also learn to execute his pitches better as the season goes on.
All things considered, I’m still very much a believer in Halladay. He probably won’t go 18-5 with a 2.75 ERA, but I do think he’s going to quiet the critics by putting in a very good year.