Halladay turns 36 in May. He missed time last season with a lat injury, and he experienced shoulder problems that he attributed to a back issue. Though he pitched extremely well in April, he struggled in May before going on the disabled list. After returning from the DL, he did not show All-Star stuff.
According to FanGraphs, Halladay’s average fastball speed was 90.6 mph last season. That was down from 92 the year before, and 92.6 the previous two seasons.
The low velocity trend has been consistent through early spring training.
David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News reports that Halladay was sitting between 86-88 mph during his Wednesday outing against the Washington Nationals. A scout told Murphy that Halladay topped out at 88. For comparison, Stephen Strasburg ranged from 94-97. Murphy notes that the conditions were poor and that Halladay says this is the “dead arm” phase for a pitcher. In his previous two spring outings, Halladay reportedly was around 88-91, which is a better sign.
Even though Halladay’s velocity was down against the Nationals, he still threw four scoreless innings allowing two hits and one walk. However, most of the Nats’ top hitters were not in the lineup.
Halladay can still be a good pitcher, but the velocity points to a legitimate reason for people to be concerned over whether Roy Halladay can still be Roy Halladay. In 2006 and 2007, Halladay’s average fastball velocity was just above 91 mph, and he had an ERA over 3.00 both seasons. From 2008-2011, his average fastball velocity was over 92 each season, and his ERA was sub-3.00. That extra mile per hour or two makes a difference.
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