Roy Halladay changing speeds at 36

Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay. (Christopher Szagola/AP)

Roy Halladay understands that he doesn’t have a dominant fastball, the byproduct of being a 36-year-old righthander coming off shoulder surgery.

Yet Halladay’s confidence hasn’t wavered. He feels he can be a winning pitcher. In his first start since May 5, Halladay may not have looked like his 2010 or 2011 dominant self, but he was still effective.

Halladay allowed four hits and two runs over six innings in earning the win during Sunday’s 9-5 victory over the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.

He insists that he will continue to throw fastballs, but with some discretion.

“Unless you throw 100 (MPH) you have to change speeds,” he said following the win. “The earlier you establish you can throw those off-speed pitches for strikes, the more they have to think about and they can’t go out here looking for one pitch.”

One gets the feeling that while Halladay would like to have his old velocity back, that he enjoys attempting to outthink hitters.

He says he doesn’t feel he is re-inventing himself, but it looks that way from this standpoint.

His performance against the Diamondbacks was encouraging, but if Roger Bernadina hadn’t robbed Matt Davidson of a two-run homer, the score would have been 4-4 entering the bottom of the third inning.

Still, pitchers get defensive assistance all the time and Halladay took advantage of it.

The start showed promise, especially since he didn’t look good in his two minor league rehab appearances.

Halladay is somebody who thrives on consistency and repetition. If something is slightly off, such as a flaw in his delivery, he can get hit hard.

“There were a few times today when I got out of it a little bit, so the consistency is going to be big,” he said. “Improving that, and continuing to get that same feeling every time.”

Even though he’s a free agent after the season, it may be difficult to assess from now until the end of the season how effective Halladay will be in 2014.

Still, this first start back saw plenty of positives, and after the frustration for long stretches during the last two seasons, it’s at least an encouraging first step back for Halladay.