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Have the Phillies seen the last of Roy Halladay's greatness?

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The following words were directed to my friends this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. And trust me, never in my life did I think this sentence could possibly come out of my mouth:
 
“Can you believe Kyle Kendrick has been more consistent down the stretch than Roy Halladay?”

It’s sad but true. With the exception of his hiccup last weekend in Houston, Kendrick has been nothing short of outstanding.  

Baseball is indeed a funny game, but nobody was laughing Saturday afternoon when Phillies’ “ace” Roy Halladay pitched the second shortest outing of his major league career.Roy Halladay photo: Jared Wickerham; Getty Images

In fact, when Charlie Manuel pulled Halladay after just an inning and two thirds, Halladay experienced something he most likely hasn’t ever heard in this town.

Boos.

Yes sir.  It’s been a crazy weekend in Philadelphia so far.  A standing ovation was given for the soon-to-be retired Braves slugger Chipper Jones Friday night, but one of your team’s most beloved players was booed the next afternoon.

I’m not knocking the fans one bit on this one. They had every right to be upset on this day. Whether he’s hurt or not,  Halladay couldn’t even finish two innings in the Phillies’ biggest game of the year. Although it was more of a smattering of boos mixed with more cheers than jeers, the fact of the matter is there were boos, everybody heard them, and as Freddie Freeman’s home run ball bounced off the second-deck facade, the Phillies were suddenly in a 3-0 hole and the energy was sucked out of Citizens Bank Park within seconds. While the Braves were on their way to an 8-2 win, the Phillies’ Wild Card chances just got a lot slimmer. They now trail the Cardinals by four games with just 10 to play.

It’s been a nightmare of a season for Halladay. He hasn’t looked right from the start of spring training, where reports surfaced that his velocity was down.  Halladay shrugged off those rumors and soldiered on, but after getting rocked by the Cardinals on Memorial Day weekend, he was placed on the disabled list with a sore shoulder.

Halladay returned in mid-July, but now seems to rely on guile as opposed to actual stuff. He hasn’t come close to resembling his 2010 Cy Young form or  his runner-up campaign in 2011, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility to think that we or the Phillies will ever see that same pitcher again. We saw a similar decline up close with Steve Carlton, another Phillies great whose shoulder finally gave out on him after decades of 200 (and sometimes 300) plus innings.  There have been reports the last few days that Halladay has suffered shoulder spasms. Nonetheless, he was cleared by doctors to pitch, so who knows?  

Let’s be honest, the Phillies are going home after their regular season finale on October 3rd against the Nationals. It’s probably advantageous to just shut Halladay down for the remainder of the season.  Maybe Halladay will have his shoulder examined/operated on this off-season and will come back good as new. Stranger things have happened, but let’s get real here: Halladay will be 36 shortly after the 2013 baseball season starts. Pitchers (without the use of PEDs) don’t regain velocity on their fastball at that age when they appeared to have lost it a year before. In short, Halladay will have to do what most veteran pitchers do as they get older- learn to pitch smarter.  

Can he pull this off? If anybody can, it’s Roy Halladay.

Will he pull this off? Let’s put it this way:  If he doesn’t, the Phillies' quest to return to the playoffs in 2013 will be a lot tougher..


Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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