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

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

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.

Sixers draw high praise from Warriors after loss to NBA leader

Sixers draw high praise from Warriors after loss to NBA leader

BOX SCORE

The Warriors are the blueprint of a total team in the NBA. They have a star-studded starting lineup and a top sixth man with the positional versatility that creates hard-to-combat matchups.

Yet, as the Warriors notched their 50th win of the season, 119-108, in a collaborative effort against the Sixers, they gave credit to the potential they see in their opponent, even when Brett Brown didn't have his key pieces on the court Monday (see Instant Replay).

"They play hard," Stephen Curry said. "They have some talent to work around. Hopefully they have some consistency with their roster going forward and getting guys healthy. One thing about them, you've got to compliment their energy and effort and fight every night they play."

Facing the Warriors with a full squad is challenging enough. The Sixers did it shorthanded without Joel Embiid, who is out indefinitely with a left knee contusion (see story). They also are less than a week removed from trading starting power forward Ersan Ilyasova and the defensive-minded Nerlens Noel.

"You've got to give this team a lot of credit," Draymond Green said. "They're going to be really, really, really good. I mean, they're missing Embiid and Ben Simmons and they're really on their way."

With 10 available players, including Justin Anderson, who has had just one shootaround to actually get a run in with the team, the Sixers fought until the final buzzer sounded. Dario Saric led the Sixers with 21 points and seven assists, while also collecting seven rebounds. Gerald Henderson scored 16 and both Robert Covington and Richaun Holmes added 15 (see feature highlight). Covington also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

"They play the right way," Klay Thompson said. "They made it tough on us tonight. I'm excited to see their team when Embiid and Simmons are healthy. It should be a scary frontcourt, and with Saric. They're heading in the right direction. They'll only get better this June because they have some high picks. It's a bright future in Philly."

The Sixers held the Warriors to 6 for 29 three-point shooting (20.7 percent), including an 0-for-11 outing by Curry. This was the third time this season and only the 37th time in his career Curry missed all of his three-point attempts.

"I think he had an off night," Brown said. "I think at times we got lucky with them as a team. They didn't shoot it the way the team normally would shoot it. Some of it is I give our guys credit."

Curry took his uncharacteristic performance, which included a pair of air-balls, in stride.

"The weatherman said it was a low-pressure system that was coming and I forgot to adjust," Curry said. "One thing, [I] don't ever get down on myself. Obviously that's why I got 11 of them up and not make one. You still have confidence the next one's going in."

Still, the Warriors turned to team basketball to pull away with the win. While they struggled from long range, they found other ways to run up the scoreboard, including shooting 33 for 39 at the free throw line.

Kevin Durant led all players with 27 points to go with eight rebounds. Green recorded a 14-point, 11-assist double-double and six boards. Thompson scored 21 points and Zaza Pachulia added 16. And at the end of the night, Curry still finished with 19 points in spite of his three-point woes.

"We've been doing this for a while together now and just try to find ways to get it done," Green said. "Obviously you've got to do a lot more on the defensive end to get stops, and try to create more offense. I think it was a good effort from everybody tonight to chip in."

Added Curry: "For us to still have the moxie to withstand that and still pretty much have the lead the whole game and allow our defense to get us a win tonight was kind of our M.O."

The Warriors are a perennial title contender thanks to their balanced roster and depth of weapons. The Sixers are in the beginning stages of working toward that goal. After Monday's game, the NBA's strongest example of "team" appreciated the direction in which Sixers are moving.

"Putting this franchise back together," Green said, "it's amazing to see."

Best of NHL: Ryan White scores in winning debut with Wild

Best of NHL: Ryan White scores in winning debut with Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Mikael Granlund beat two defenders to find open ice and wrap the winning shot around goalie Jonathan Quick just 12 seconds into overtime, giving the Minnesota Wild a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

Granlund's 20th goal of the season gave goalie Devan Dubnyk his NHL-leading 33rd win and the Wild their 15th comeback victory. They answered all four goals in regulation by the Kings, from Nick Shore, Tanner Pearson, Jake Muzzin and Marian Gaborik.

Jason Zucker's spinning wrist shot midway through the third period tied the game for the Wild, who also had goals from Nino Niederreiter, Jordan Schroeder and Ryan White in his debut. White and Martin Hanzal were acquired in a trade with Arizona the night before (see full recap).

Kucherov's hat trick carries Lightning past Sens
TAMPA, Fla. -- Nikita Kucherov scored three power-play goals in the second period and the Tampa Bay Lightning kept their fading playoff hopes alive with a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.

Kucherov had the second hat trick of his career and added an assist in the third period. Jonathan Drouin assisted all three of his goals and Victor Hedman assisted on two.

A day after trading goaltender Ben Bishop to Los Angeles and just hours after trading forward Brian Boyle to Toronto, the Lightning improved to 6-1-2 over their past nine games.

The Senators, who won at Florida on Sunday night, are 6-6 over their past 12 games (see full recap).

Galchenyuk lifts Canadiens over Devils in OT
NEWARK, N.J. -- Alex Galchenyuk scored on a power play at 2:54 of overtime and the Montreal Canadiens rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Monday night.

Max Pacioretty scored twice in the final 11:23 of regulation to tie the game and Alexander Radulov added a goal for the Canadiens, who won consecutive games for the first time since early January. Al Montoya had 34 saves for Montreal.

Kyle Palmieri, John Moore and Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, who have lost four straight games (0-2-2), the past two in overtime. Cory Schneider made 29 saves.

Galchenyuk beat Schneider with a shot from between the circles less than a minute after Damon Severson was penalized for hooking (see full recap).