When the Philadelphia Phillies acquired Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays, I was amazed they had acquired the best pitcher in baseball. I was equally amazed by the many negative reactions from Phillies fans who were upset about trading Cliff Lee. Only in Philadelphia could fans be upset about acquiring the best pitcher in baseball!
As the season progressed, some whiny fans still bemoaned the Halladay deal. Halladay continued to dominate and pile up wins; he also received a handful of losses due to a lack of run support. His record currently sits at 18-10; however, he could have easily compiled 23 or 24 wins at this point if the offense hadn’t betrayed him a handful of times.
Roy Halladay in 2010 with Phillies (MLB rank)
18 W (2nd)
2.44 ERA (5th among pitchers with at least 150 IP)
1.05 WHIP (4th among pitchers with at least 150 IP)
228 2/3 IP (1st)
201 K (3rd)
8 complete games (1st)
3 shutouts (1st)
In addition to these fantastic numbers, Halladay has made a mockery of the NL East this season. Halladay is 11-1 with a 1.41 ERA against NL East teams. His dominance against NL East rivals have kept the Phillies afloat during their struggles earlier this season. If Halladay had struggled like the rest of the team, the Phillies would not be the division leader at this time.
In his 30 starts, he registered 22 quality starts. Halladay had pitched seven or more innings in 26 of his 30 starts (including his last 10 starts). His worst month was in June, as Halladay “struggled” with a 2-4 record and 3.27 ERA that month.
Halladay joins the Atlanta Braves’ Tim Hudson as the only healthy aces in the NL East at this time. The Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg is out for the year and may be out next season as well. The New York Mets’ Johan Santana had season-ending surgery and the status of the Florida Marlins’ Josh Johnson is uncertain.
Halladay is a conditioning freak and simply does not tire. He had rarely ever been injured in his career. Tossing seven or more innings does not bother him; he has led the MLB in complete games and shutouts on a regular basis throughout his career. And what of former Phillies pitcher Lee? Lee started the season on the DL with abdominal issues and is currently inactive due to back pain.
Tossing a perfect game, posting dominant numbers, winning low-scoring games while Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins were injured and the streaky Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth pulled random disappearing acts is a burden only an elite pitcher could shoulder. Ordinary pitchers will lose more often than they win under such circumstances. Halladay has not only won under these circumstances, he often made it look effortless.
I hear less of the whiners now. If Halladay hasn’t silenced them, they are at least a very small minority at this time. The only pessimistic ammunition I hear anymore is “Halladay has never pitched in the playoffs!” While that is true, I’m sure he’s quite capable of pitching against elite teams. He pitched for 12 seasons in the AL East against the mighty New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays have also been an elite team in recent years. Nonetheless, Halladay compiled a 148-76 (.661) record while pitching for the lowly Toronto Blue Jays.
In regards to having zero playoff experience: how many playoff games did Cliff Lee pitch in the first seven years of his career before dominating in the 2009 postseason with the Phillies? Answer: ZERO!
Enjoy the ride, Phillies fans. Halladay continues to prove himself as baseball’s best pitcher. Cole Hamels is having perhaps the best season of his career and veteran Roy Oswalt improves the Phillies’ title chances as well. Barring any disappearing acts by the offense in the postseason, the Phillies should make it back to the World Series and face the Yankees or Rays. Halladay will win World Series MVP and silence the Halladay/Lee trade critics once and for all.