Roy Halladay is gonna love the National League
Monday marked the three-week checkpoint until Roy Halladay's regular-season debut for the Philadelphia Phillies, which will be against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 5, Opening Day. With that in mind, I ventured out to one of my favorite Grapefruit League stadiums, Bradenton's McKechnie Field, to see Halladay face the Pittsburgh Pirates.
I didn't really need the confirmation, but after seeing Halladay mow down the Pirates -- five innings, three hits, one earned run, two walks, six K's -- and hearing him complain to the assembled press corps about lacking "consistency," I'm ready to hand him the NL Cy Young Award. (At the very least, he was better than Oakland's Opening Day starter on Monday.)
I had Halladay at 66 pitches Monday, 43 of them for strikes. The three hits he gave up were a double under the glove of first baseman Ryan Howard, a seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield and a pop up that third baseman Placido Polanco lost in the sun and that fell in for a single. (Polanco sprained his knee on the play, but said he expects to be back in the lineup in a few days.)
Here was Halladay's assessment of his outing Monday: "I'm still battling a couple of things that come and go. Physically, I feel good. It's just the consistency I'm still working on."
And here was the assessment from an NL scout in attendance: "Typical Halladay. He's a master. Every pitch has a purpose, even if it's just to set up the next pitch. He's as good as there is. And in that league? Watch out."
Exactly. After spending his entire 11-year career with the Toronto Blue Jays and pitching in the dreaded AL East -- 73 of his 287 career starts (25.4 percent) have been against the Yankees or Red Sox -- Halladay, whom the Phillies acquired via trade this winter, is going to think the NL is some kind of junior varsity circuit.
True, with the Phillies he'll be pitching his home games in a band box of a stadium, but his sinker is among the best in the game, and he can be a ground-ball machine when he wants to.
Welcome to the National League, Doc. You're going to like it here.
March 15, 2010; 6:27 PM ET
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