Halladay's hard stuff charms the 'snakes'

Roy Halladay, who had not pitched to major-league hitters in nearly four months since shoulder surgery in early May, was called upon to make the start Sunday for the Philadelphia Phillies, who used 11 pitchers (including two position players) in Saturday night’s epic 18-inning loss.

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Roy Halladay pitches for the first time since May 5.

The last time Halladay was on the mound for the Phillies was May 5 when he got shelled for nine runs in 2⅓ innings vs the Miami Marlins, the fourth time in seven starts this season he had allowed at least five runs in a game.

Although Halladay did not flash his vintage Cy Young form today against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he did throw a solid six innings, giving up two runs on four hits and getting his first win since April 19.

How Halladay Won

Halladay’s hard pitches (cutter and sinker) averaged only 86.9 MPH, his lowest combined average velocity with those two pitches in any start over the last five seasons, but they were still effective offerings for him.

His 59 cutters and sinkers netted him 12 outs with just one hit allowed against the Diamondbacks; in his first seven starts this season, batters hit .329 and slugged .671 off his cutter and sinker.

Halladay was also effective in getting batters to expand their strike zone, with the Diamondbacks chasing 27 percent of pitches thrown outside the zone, his highest chase rate in his eight starts this year.

Halladay didn’t have swing-and-miss stuff today with just six swinging strikes, matching his fewest in a start this season. But he did get a season-high 21 called strikes, including both of his strikeouts.

He also had trouble finishing off batters with two strikes, allowing four of the 12 batters to reach base that went to two-strike counts. Entering this game, opponents were just 8-for-65 (.123) with two strikes against Halladay this season.

Halladay the Snake Charmer

Ryne Sandberg made a wise choice in calling for Halladay to start against Arizona. Halladay is now 5-1 with a 2.32 ERA in six career starts versus the Diamondbacks and hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any outing.

The outcome was also likely decided by the fourth inning when the Phillies took a 6-2 lead. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Halladay is now 113-0 in his career when given a lead of four-or-more runs and Halladay’s teams are 116-9 (.928) in those games.

Looking Ahead

Halladay’s start on Sunday was encouraging but may not foretell a complete comeback for the 36-year-old righthander. It has been a boom-or-bust season for him this year, with a 13.97 ERA in his four losses and 2.00 ERA in his four other starts.