Halladay has walked 10 batters and plunked three in his last two starts. His postoperative ERA is 5.06 in four outings. It was 8.65 in seven starts before the 36-year-old righthander succumbed to his injury.
"In all honesty, I'm proud of the fact that I made it back," Halladay said Thursday. "A lot of guys my age could be at home, could be not pitching, could never pitch again. I feel like I beat some of those odds and that is what I look at."
If Halladay's expectations have been lowered, the Phillies may have to adjust their own. They are using these games to evaluate the former Cy Young Award winner before he becomes a free agent. Halladay is earning $20 million this year. He will seek an incentive-laden deal this winter, most likely with a contending team. There is mutual interest in a return.
When Halladay won the National League Cy Young in 2010, he walked 30 batters in 2502/3 innings. He has issued 31 walks in 552/3 innings this season.
"Roy's doing fine," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "If you thought he was going to pitch to a 2.00 ERA, you're out of your mind. He's been fine. I don't think people can even fathom what he's doing."
The Phillies, of course, need substantial upgrades to their rotation beyond Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee at the top. Halladay could gain arm strength and fortitude this winter, but no team will know how much until spring training.
At times, Halladay looks withered. He is noticeably thinner. Dubee attributed it to a recent illness, but Halladay appeared slimmer back in spring training.
"The guy has gone through an extensive rehab process," Dubee said. "Once he gets a break and gets away from this, he'll be fine."
Halladay, long known for his stoicism and ability to block distractions, sounded Thursday like a man stung by criticism. He chastised a group of assembled reporters.
"It's important for me to work on the things I need to work on, but also focus on the things that are good," Halladay said. "Philly isn't an easy place to do that. You guys are pretty tough. You have to be pretty mentally strong and block that out and go out there with confidence and trust."
He added: "You get criticized for pitching hurt and wanting to be out there for your team, and criticized for trying to come back and do the right thing. That's tough to swallow. But I believe I'm mentally strong enough to do that."
Cesar Hernandez started his third straight game in center field Friday. It was his eighth start there this month, and interim manager Ryne Sandberg is pleased with the 23-year-old Venezuelan's play. "His athletic ability is allowing him to play the position pretty well right now for the lack of experience that he has," Sandberg said. . . . The Phillies bullpen went 42/3 innings Thursday without allowing a hit, walk, or hit batter for the first time since May 22, 1998.
Contact Matt Gelb at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @magelb.