Halladay: 'I always felt I was going in the right direction'

Roy Halladay in action during a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, April 19, 2013, in Philadelphia. (Matt Slocum/AP)

When many people were suggesting that Roy Halladay’s better days were over after two disastrous early season starts that followed a rough end of last season, there is one person who says he never lost faith.

That would be none other than Roy Halladay.

While it may be too soon to say that the Hallady of old is back, just like it was too early to say the former Halladay was never returning, the fact remains that he has now put together two quality starts after Friday’s 8-2 win in seven rain-shorted innings over the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park.

In his last two starts, Halladay has allowed seven hits and three earned runs in 15 innings. Compare that to the previous two starts where he surrendered 12 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings.

And that came on the heels of his last four starts of 2012 when he allowed 19 earned runs in 24 innings.

As interesting as it is to see Halladay try to reinvent himself as a pitcher, is hearing his postgame analysis.

“Obviously it was a struggle in spring training and the first two starts were a struggle and I know it’s hard for you guys to believe it but I always felt I was going in the right direction,” Halladay said afterwards in the Phillies clubhouse. “I just felt like it needed a matter of time before I could really put it all together.”

After hearing Halladay talk following his 7-2 loss to the New York Mets on April 8 in which he allowed seven earned runs in four innings, it didn’t sound like somebody who felt he was in the right direction.

Regardless, it doesn’t matter how it sounds or how we interpret how it sounds. All that matters is how Halladay pitches.

“Having some of the setbacks in the spring that I had and not getting to pitch deep into games early in the year, I think that all kind of hurt me,” he said.

What made Halladay effective against St. Louis was that he rarely threw anything in the middle of the plate.

“He was able to locate the ball on both sides of the plate,” manager Charlie Manuel said.

Halladay is using more pitches to set up hitters. He threw 109 pitches and just 59 for strikes, so he was missing some pitches and he would get upset at some of the calls from home plate umpire Alan Porter, even though the Phillies led 8-1 after three innings.

“There were pitches you felt were good pitches and you are not getting calls so that was tough, but again, you get excited, you get a big lead and try to do too much,” Halladay said. “So it is important for me to stay within myself, do the little things, execute pitches and go from there.”

Halladay no longer can blow the ball by hitters all the time, although he was still throwing as high as 92 miles per hour late in the game.

When he is throwing 92 or even 90 and has good movement, Halladay is still difficult to hit.

And he says the key is to have flawless mechanics.

“I feel when I do things wrong and I can feel when I do things right and it’s a matter of making adjustments quickly and preferably making the adjustment between pitches,” he said.

No doubt, Halladay is a thinking man’s pitcher and he was that way even when he had the type of stuff that could routine lyoverpower hitters.

Now he is thinking more than ever. And even though he said he felt good about his effort, the old unfulfilled Halladay surfaced when asked if he is right where he wants to be.

“I think if anybody tells you that they are right where they want to be, there are going to be hard times coming up,” he said. “You always want to improve, get better and always want to be more consistent, that has always been the goal.”

Again, nobody can truly know if Halladay is ready to re-emerge into ace-hood, but he is at least encouraged by his last two outings.

And whether he really did see this coming all along doesn’t matter. Right now, Roy Halladay is feeling better and pitching better.

Based on the fact that he turns 36 next month and he had such a rough go last season and into the beginning this year, we’ll probably still keep going start to start for a while before declaring that the Halladay of old is back.

But there is no denying that the results of the last two starts matched the old Halladay and for now, the Phillies will more than settle for that.