Phillies have no intention of shutting down Halladay

Roy Halladay threw second-shortest outing of his career Saturday, lasting only 1 innings vs. the Braves.
Roy Halladay threw second-shortest outing of his career Saturday, lasting only 1 innings vs. the Braves. (RICH SCHULTZ / GETTY IMAGES)
Posted: September 25, 2012

THE PHILLIES could be as many as 6 1/2 games out of a playoff spot with eight games remaining in their schedule by the end of Tuesday night.

Despite those unfriendly odds and the increasing likelihood that they'll miss the postseason for the first time since 2006, Roy Halladay is expected to finish the season in the rotation.

Two days after Halladay surrendered seven runs in 1 2/3 innings, the second-shortest start of his career, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Monday that his Opening Day starter was scheduled to make his next start.

Halladay said following Saturday's start that he was checked out by a doctor recently for spasms in his upper shoulder. He also spent 2 months on the disabled list this summer with a right lat injury.

"Right now, he's pitching in his next start, unless we talk to doctors over the next couple of days and find out there's no reason to do it," Amaro said via phone on Monday afternoon. "Right now, he's scheduled to make his next start."

That could come as soon as Thursday, when the Phillies play the Washington Nationals in the final regular-season game at Citizens Bank Park this season.

The Phils have Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick on tap for the first two games of the Nationals series, on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Kendrick is leapfrogging over Tyler Cloyd in the rotation - Cloyd pitched in front of Kendrick last week.

On Thursday, the Phils could choose to give Halladay an extra day of rest and pitch Cloyd, or they could push Cloyd back again and keep Halladay on his regular day.

While there might be concern from the outside that Halladay is ailing and probably shouldn't pitch in what will likely be a couple of meaningless games, there doesn't appear to be as much worry inside the Phillies organization.

"If there is a concern long-term on the guy, we obviously won't pitch him," Amaro said. "If there's not a concern and the pitcher feels fine pitching, which we think he will, he'll pitch. We'll obviously be careful with him. But if he's capable and able, and if the doctors feel he's capable and able, then he'll pitch."

Although his most trying season in 3 years in Philadelphia might have taken a toll on him mentally, Halladay was adamant Saturday that he'd make his final two starts.

"It's not anything that's long-term," Halladay said of recent spasms in his shoulder. "I had some stuff that was going on and was checked out. It's nothing they're all that concerned about."

But the affect Halladay's ailing shoulder has had on his ability to get major league hitters out is troubling.

After going 40-16 with a 2.40 ERA and 17 complete games in his first two seasons with the Phillies, Halladay's ERA is two runs higher this year (4.40) and he hasn't completed any of his 24 starts. Halladay, who has amassed 61 complete games in the previous nine seasons, is in line to go an entire season without a complete game for the first time since 2000, when he was 4-7 with a 10.64 ERA in 19 games with Toronto.

After going seven or more innings in 85 percent of his starts in 2010 (28 of 33) and in 75 percent of his starts in 2011 (24 of 32), Halladay has gone seven or more in only 58 percent of his starts this season (14 of 24). Since returning from the DL in mid-July, Halladay has a 4.78 ERA in 13 starts.

"He's been the best pitcher in baseball for the past decade," teammate Cliff Lee said Sunday. "Anytime you see a guy go through some struggles that's been that good, you wonder why, you wonder what's going on. I can't speak for him, but it's definitely not what you would expect from him . . . It's just been one of those years, and not only for him, but for this team in general and a lot of guys individually. Things just haven't gone the way that they expect.

"It's going to challenge a lot of guys going into this offseason to make them work harder, to make them come back and prove that that's not who they are and show who the real version of them is. I expect Roy to definitely do that. He's the hardest-working pitcher I've ever been around. I expect him to bounce back, and if not these last couple outings, definitely next year."

But it's worth wondering whether Halladay will bounce back.

In the 6-year span from 2006 through '11, no pitcher threw more innings than Halladay. Since becoming a permanent fixture in Toronto's rotation in the middle of the 2001 season, Halladay is an impressive 185-86 with a 3.07 ERA; but he's also faced just short of 10,000 hitters (9,911) in that time.

The mileage on his right arm coinciding with a lengthy stay on the DL this summer and a case of September shoulder spasms this month can't be ignored.

But Amaro, who first pursued the longtime Toronto ace three summers ago and didn't end that pursuit until the following winter, thinks that the Halladay who returns in 2013 will be more like the pitcher who anchored his pitching-rich staff in 2010 and 2011 and less like the inconsistent starter he has been in 2012.

"I feel confident he's going to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher," Amaro said. "Whether he's the Roy Halladay from 2010, 2009, that I'm not sure. But I am confident that he'll come back. He's got some things I know he wants to do as far as strengthening and in preparation for next season. With that work and rest, I think he'll be OK."

Halladay acknowledged he would likely alter his workout routine this winter. But one option that doesn't appear to be on the table is surgery.

"Nope, not right now," Amaro said. "We don't have any structural damage; there is no surgery that can help him. It's just tightness in his upper shoulder and shoulder blade, nothing like symptoms when he was [placed on the DL]. Right now, we don't see any issue, as far as any procedure is necessary."


Contact Ryan Lawrence at rlawrence@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanlawrence21.

 

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