Lost in the hoopla about Roy Halladay's pitch that got away against the Nationals yesterday was his actual performance. The veteran righty struck out two, walked one and allowed two hits in four scoreless innings against the Phillies' National League East Rivals. So the results were there. I talked to a scout who said that Halladay looked much sharper than he did in his previous outing, but that his velocity was topping out at 88 and everything was sitting between 86-88. When Halladay was at his most dominant, he was sitting 92-93. For perspective, Stephen Strasburg's velo was reading 94-97 yesterday, which is pretty close to where he is during the regular season.
Now, before we start running for the fire exits, let's keep a couple things in mind. One, the conditions were not good yesterday. Strasburg, Halladay and pitching coach Rich Dubee all remarked about how difficult it was to grip the ball. Two, Halladay meantioned after his outing that this is the time of year when a pitching typically has to battle through a little bit of "dead arm." So that may have some impact on his velocity readings.
Here's the way I look at the situation: Roy Halladay can pitch effectively with a fastball and cutter that are sitting between 88-90. I'm not sure he can pitch at a Cy Young level, but I think he can give you 200 innings and be one of the best No. 3 starters in baseball. His location and movement are more important than his velocity, and most reports have him scoring well in those departments this spring. Anybody who expected him to come out this spring pushing 36 years old and start throwing bullets like he was 32 was underestimating the intractability of the human body.
That doesn't mean there is no reason to worry. Again, he's pushing 36 and he has a lot of innings on his arm. But the velocity itself doesn't indicate anything other than what most of us already presumed, that Halladay is a different pitcher now than he was two years ago. The question all along has been, "How effective can that pitcher be?"