ATLANTA — There are no expectations for Roy Halladay when he makes his 2013 debut Wednesday, and it is a strange dynamic. This is Roy Halladay, the most dependable pitcher in this millennium, a model to pitchers everywhere, a man whose work ethic is unparalleled.
No one knows what will happen when he launches a baseball from his right arm.
Both Halladay and pitching coach Rich Dubee spoke of doing more with less during spring training. How much less electricity is contained in Halladay's arm? He reached 90 m.p.h. with his fastball in Grapefruit League play. Mostly, his stuff sat between 87-89 m.p.h.
That would represent an even further drop from what was already a steady decline.
Using Pitch F/X data compiled by Major League Baseball, here is a chart with Halladay's average fastball velocity while a Phillie from his first starts (FB G1) and entire seasons (FB YR) as well as his average cutter velocity from his first starts (CT G1) and seasons (CT YR):
|YEAR||FB G1||FB YR||CT G1||CT YR|
The data suggest whatever Halladay throws Wednesday will be reflective of his season average. So "building up arm strength" may serve as an excuse, but it is a hollow one.
Halladay can succeed with diminished velocity. It will take adjustments. The challenge begins in mere hours.
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