Roy Halladay entered his first start of the 2013 season, with much concern after a shaky spring. And after Roy’s performance tonight, everyone walked away more confused about Halladay than they were coming into the start.
The Braves got things going early, with a first inning opposite-field bomb from Justin Upton. The homerun was Upton’s second in as many games, as he appears to be locked in early with his new team. By the end of the first inning, Halladay had thrown 40 pitches, and the Phillies had were down 3-0. At the same time, Halladay struck out three, and topped at 92 on the gun. Halladay was consistently hitting 88-89 MPH on his fastball on the gun, which was one of the most confusing parts about tonight’s game. If you told anyone that Halladay would walk away from the first inning having thrown 40 pitches, and down 3-0, they would have expected he was throwing his fastball in the mid-80′s and really struggling with his velocity, which certainly was not the case.
Halladay could never recover from pitch-count wise, and while his final line (3.1 Innings, 6 Hits, 5 Earned Runs) wasn’t impressive, Halladay did show some positive signs in tonight’s start. Halladay was not only throwing the ball into the 90′s, but he was also locating his off-speed pitches, his curveball specifically, extremely well. As the season progresses, how Halladay locates his off-speed pitches, may dictate how successful he is, especially if the velocity on his fastball dips at any point. Halladay also became the first pitcher since 1916 to strike out nine batters, in a start that lasted ten outs or fewer. I’m not sure if that is a fact to be proud of, but he did manage to strike out nine batters even amid a rough start. Overall the Phillies are on a wait-and-see approach with Doc, and may very well be uncertain of what they are going to get out of Doc from start-to-start for the entire season.
Halladay was outdone by Paul Maholm for the Braves, who was impressive tossing 5.2 innings of shutout baseball and getting good backup from the Braves scary bullpen.
The Phillies bullpen, with the exception of Raul Valdes who gave up a bases clearing double to Freddie Freeman, was pretty impressive. Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams, threw scoreless innings, and Jonathan Papelbon is only ever good in save situations, so him giving up a homerun to Jason Heyward in the eight inning, didn’t concern me.
And the true problem, is that this Phillies lineup gives you very little confidence, when you are down in a game. Once the Phillies got down 4-0, it truly felt like the game was over, because Ryan Howard isn’t hitting, and while Dom Brown, and Jimmy Rollins have been productive at the plate so far, the lineup is just extremely underwhelming. Besides Chase Utley and Ryan Howard , who since moving closer to the plate looks to have lost bat speed, who on this team gives you and power threat? This just isn’t a Phillies team built to comeback, especially not against the Braves bullpen.
So the Phillies are 0-2, with a lot of questions after just two games. And I know that the Phillies were 0-2 in 2008 and that ended in a parade down Broad Street, but this team just doesn’t have the same feeling, or for that matter talent.