After he threw 109 pitches Friday, Roy Halladay declared it "was about as close as I've felt to where I want to be." Halladay has made four starts in 2013 and the evolution process is constant. That was more than evident in Halladay's pitch selection.
He relied on his sinker more than ever while with the Phillies. Against St. Louis, Halladay threw his sinker 50 times, according to Pitch F/X data. Research by ESPN Stats & Info showed it was the most frequent Halladay used his sinker in a game since the beginning of 2009.
"He's getting back to throwing it more," pitching coach Rich Dubee said.
Halladay admitted uneasiness when throwing the sinker during his first start in Atlanta. He used it in 15 percent of his pitches that night. Instead of challenging hitters, he retreated to a steady diet of off-speed pitches.
Earlier in his career, Halladay was a sinkerball pitcher. The cutter became his primary pitch in recent years. Dubee believes the sinker is a more consistent pitch right now for Halladay. With a lower arm slot and changed mechanics, mastering the cutter is tougher.
If he can command the sinker to both sides of the plate, Halladay could operate with that pitch as his backbone. He allowed two runs, both on home runs, in seven innings.
Cardinals infielder Ty Wigginton, a former teammate of Halladay's in Philadelphia and longtime opponent in the American League East, saw a different Halladay on Friday. The results were the same.
"He was constantly down and in on righties," Wigginton said. "Always a borderline ball-strike call."
Dubee was hesitant to detail what changes Halladay is making. His pitch selection could change by the start given the strengths of the opposition. The results — two poor starts followed by two good ones — are not enough to judge whether Halladay has discovered a workable plan.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny took a different perspective. He thought his players failed to capitalize vs. a hittable Halladay.
"I saw a guy who didn't have his best stuff but competes his way into being very good," Matheny said. "The longer he went out there, he got better. He made a lot of mistakes. He worked deeper counts than I know he likes to do."
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