Halladay and Chooch, Together Again: Will It Help Roy's Command?

Halladay and Chooch, Together Again: Will It Help Roy's Command?
April 30, 2013, 1:46 pm

If there's a better bromance in Philadelphia than Carlos Ruiz and Roy Halladay, I'd like to hear who it involves.

The battery mates will be reunited this evening in Cleveland when Roy Halladay (2-2, 5.08) and the Phillies take on right-hander Zach McAllister (1-3, 3.50) and the Indians (more on McAllister and the Phils futility against pitchers they haven't seen here).

The big news of the day is Delmon Young flying to Cleveland and Charlie Manuel wasting no time getting him in the lineup. Young will DH tonight and bat fifth, but Charlie told reporters this afternoon he'd like to see him in right field before the team heads home to face the Marlins on Thursday. That could be disastrous/hilarious.

7:05 start from the Forest City. For more on Halladay, check out the guest spot from Matt Hammond below.

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Next Step in Halladay's Progression: Command
by Matt Hammond

Between 2010 and 2011, only one starter in baseball had a better strikeout-to-walk ratio, the consummate control metric, than Roy Halladay. (That guy, of course, was Cliff Lee.)

No matter how you slice it, be it BB% (3.4) or BB/9 (1.21), Halladay walked the fewest batters in baseball (again, with Lee) and did it with a handle matched by, well, maybe only Lee. But still.

Even amid Halladay’s remarkable turnaround – he’s gone 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his last three – that control has yet to catch up. With his Phillies in Cleveland tonight for the first of a two-game set to wrap the road trip, rediscovering his command is the next logical step for him.

Save for the home runs and near driver’s license-eligible ERA, what was scariest about Halladay’s first two starts was his 14.6% walk rate. Still, even in his last three, he gave freebies to 8.6%. Never in his career since 2004 had he walked more than 5.6% -- and even that was from last year.

One of his biggest issues so far has been falling behind. Halladay’s thrown first-pitch strikes on only 50.4% of at-bats, for the fifth-worst rate in baseball. And it’s actually gotten progressively worse as the rest of his game has so much improved: 55.2, 44.0, 40.9 in his last three. Granted, he’s done a good job of recovering or forcing bad balls in play (we’ll get there), and if this persists, that ability will be one of his biggest allies. Still, it’s just not a Halladay we’ve ever seen – even last year.

Part of the problem is there’s actually too much life in his cutter. Where it had just -0.1 of horizontal movement in 2010-11, it’s now got -3.9 – good (bad?) for the most in all of baseball. Clearly not helping keep runners off base, especially since they’re hitting .389 against the pitch this year.

If he can get a hold of that, watch out.

The hope tonight is that Cleveland doesn’t get a hold of Halladay. His HR/FB rate (20.8%) ranks fourth in baseball and is twice his career average. And it’s not just from his first two starts. Despite ranking 24th in home runs, the Cardinals took Halladay deep twice two weeks back. The Indians have the seventh most homers in baseball so far, and sixth best HR/FB (13.2%).

Also of concern: Halladay’s BABIP his last three starts is .194, from 54 balls put in play.

But hits and home runs will happen, even to Halladay.

Of chief concern now is whether the guys running/trotting the base paths walked to get there.

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