Sunday, February 7, 2016

Phillies needed some relief from Halladay saga

The Phillies were hoping for the best from Roy Halladay.

Phillies needed some relief from Halladay saga

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)

The Phillies were hoping for the best from Roy Halladay.

They owed him $20 million, so when you're talking about that much money for a guy who has earned just as much in terms of respect as he has in dollars, you're going to hand him the baseball until he says he can't take it any more.

Halladay, after what had to be one of the most difficult days of his career, finally said enough Sunday. He registered just seven outs and surrendered nine runs to a Miami Marlins team that had gone an entire week earlier this season without scoring that many times.

Not only is Halladay's next outing in question, but also his entire career depending on what Dr. Lewis Yocum finds in his right shoulder out in Los Angeles.

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This, of course, is not the best-case scenario for Halladay or the Phillies. Halladay, after changing his offseason workout routine, arrived in spring training convinced that he could bounce back from the shoulder and back issues that dogged him from start to finish in 2012.

You could not discount a man with his competitive fervor, but it was obvious Halladay was battling more than just hitters on the afternoon in Clearwater against Detroit when he said he felt "lethargic" and the radar guns behind home plate told an even more ominous story.

This has become the worst-case scenario for one of the best pitchers of his era. Hard work, determination and a positive outlook -- three of the things that made him elite and admirable -- weren't enough this time.

It's not good for the Phillies either. Halladay's health was a key ingredient in general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s 2013 winning recipe, but that dish has already gone sour.

On the other hand, this might be the second-best scenario for Amaro and the team.

Position players love when they show up at the ballpark knowing that the guy they have pitching is capable of making life miserable for the other team. At his best, the Phillies thought they would always win when they sent Halladay to the mound, and they usually did.

Even with their 2-5 record this season, they are 62-35 -- a .639 winning percentage -- in Halladay's 97 career starts. If he never pitches again for the Phillies, he was still worth the $75.75 million they paid him as well as the price Amaro paid in terms of players.

That said, there is nothing worse for position players than showing up for work knowing that you have a box of chocolates on the mound that day. That's what Halladay has become. In four of his seven starts, he put the Phillies in huge holes early and that creates a cushion and confidence for the opposing pitchers and players.

Maybe Halladay can figure out how to become consistently good again. He flirted with it for three straight starts last month, but couldn't sustain it. The Phillies wanted to give him every chance to get things right. Amaro said as much on several occasions.

Halladay's opportunities, however, were hurting the team. There's no guarantee that Adam Morgan, Tyler Cloyd or whoever replaces him in the rotation is going to be better, but it will not be as dramatic or as draining watching a young, inexperienced pitcher struggle.

The Halladay saga had become a monster and the Phillies needed some relief from it.

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