Et tu, Roy Halladay?
The physical troubles of Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and second baseman Chase Utley are well documented.
Halladay, the Phillies’ ace right-hander, has not missed time this spring. But two scouts following the Phillies expressed concern Wednesday about the pitcher’s lack of velocity and sharpness in Grapefruit League play.
One scout said Halladay topped out at 89 mph Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins, threw from a lower arm angle and lacked bite on his changeup and sinker. Another said that Halladay does not resemble the same pitcher who comes out “like gangbusters” every spring.
Halladay, 34, threw 70 pitches in 2 2/3 innings on Wednesday, allowing five runs on seven hits. He told reporters afterward that he was working on his changeup, and acknowledged that he is not satisfied with the way he is throwing.
“I’m going to use the entire spring training to get ready,” Halladay said. “I feel like we’re getting closer. Mechanically, things are better. It’s just the consistency of executing pitches. It’s ultimately what I need to improve on the most.”
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., in an interview with FOXSports.com, said he is more worried about Halladay’s location than his velocity. But when an older pitcher such as Halladay shows signs of slippage, even in spring training, questions invariably arise.
Halladay has thrown the most innings in the majors the past six years, averaging 236 per season. He also has pitched 38 innings in the past two postseasons. His fastball velocity has declined gradually but not markedly, dropping from 92.6 mph to 91.3 from 2008 to '11, according to Fangraphs.com.
“I’m not worried about his arm strength,” Amaro said. “He’s only throwing 89 mph. He usually throws 91 to 93. It’s really not that much different at this stage of camp.
“If it was March 25 and he was still throwing in that range and not locating, then I’d be concerned. Right now, he’s just working on command. I don’t have any concerns. He’s throwing a lot of off-speed pitches, working on his changeup, different things.”
Amaro acknowledged that Halladay does not look like the same pitcher as he has in previous springs, but didn’t necessarily view that as a negative.
“He’s learning that he doesn’t need to come out like gangbusters,” Amaro said.
— Ken Rosenthal