Roy Halladay Now Just Another NL Starter

Roy Halladay

This column was originally posted on June 16, 2010.

With a World Series rematch and possible World Series preview taking place in the Bronx, there is only one place to watch it: the right field bleachers. So, I did just that on Tuesday night in the Bronx, thanks to Bald Vinny.

Aside from the postseason, it was the best bleacher atmosphere I have experienced in recent memory (as seen in the picture where the man in the Steve Carlton jersey is the focal point of the YMCA), and also the worst Roy Halladay performance I can remember in recent memory. Sure there was the Fourth of July last year and August 4 as well, but he also dominated the Yankees in every other performance in 2009.

Last night was supposed to be different for Roy Halladay. He was making his return to Yankee Stadium as a Phillie, trying to prove that he is the same old Doc, even if he now pitches in a league where you pitch around the No. 7 hitter to face the No. 8 hitter, and pitch around the No. 8 hitter to face the No. 9 hitter. Considering Halladay pitches for the team that is supposed to have the best offense in the National League and doesn’t ever have to face the Phillies lineup, he only faces three, sometimes four good major league hitters in most starts. Roy Halladay was supposed to show up to the Bronx on Tuesday and represent the tilt of power between baseball’s best in 2009, and make Brian Cashman rethink his stance on giving up the farm for Roy over the winter. He failed to do both.

Halladay looked a lot like every other National League pitcher when it comes to interleague play. Here is the man I refer to as the best pitcher on the planet letting up six runs over six innings. Don’t get me wrong, I will take that kind of performance from Roy anytime he starts against the Yankees, but it’s sad when the man who once dominated the AL East for 11-plus seasons proves that all of these NL starters with sub-2.00 ERAs deserve an asterisk next to them.

Here is Roy Halladay vs. the NL this season:

8-3, 95.1 IP, 81 H, 19 R, 16 ER, 12 BB, 84 K, 2 HR, 1.51 ERA

And here is Roy Halladay in two interleague starts vs. the Yankees and Red Sox:

0-2, 11.2 IP, 16 H, 13 R, 12 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 4 HR, 9.56 ERA

I will back up Roy Halladay’s abilities and go toe to toe with anyone who wants to argue anyone else as being the best pitcher in the world, but he is making that hard to do. Doc has only had 12 starts as an NL pitcher after 287 in the AL, and it’s like he already forgot his roots. Spoiled by a league in which the bottom third of the order is harder to sit through than my ride to the Stadium on the 4 train in which two overweight men had me pinned between the subway doors and their beer bellies, Roy seems to have forgotten about stacked lineups, designated hitters and the meaning of offense in baseball.

The most enjoyable part of playing interleague games at home is that there aren’t any double switches, intentional walks to face the pitchers or outs given away because the hitter at the plate is a pitcher who last swung a bat in his senior year of high school. I don’t care about National League fans still talking themselves into thinking that their league plays the game the way it is supposed to be played, or that it is the “pure” form of the sport. It’s 2010, and it’s time to let it go. It’s time for the NL to adopt the DH. Enough is enough.

In Happy Gilmore, Shooter McGavin tells Doug, the head of the PGA Tour, “I just saw two big, fat naked bikers in the woods off 17 having sex. How am I supposed to chip with that going on?” Well, over the weekend I was watching the Blue Jays play the Rockies (I’m not sure why), and I had to watch the Rockies intentionally walk Jose Molina, so they could face the Toronto pitcher. I would say watching anyone intentionally walk Jose Molina is as painful as watching fat, naked bikers have sex. How am I supposed to take the NL seriously with that going on?

In all honesty I think I would rather face Jose Molina over any pitcher in the league after watching his at-bats in the Bronx over the last three seasons. The intentional walk was the first time a Jose Molina at-bat lasted more than three pitches and didn’t end with a swinging K. I don’t want to live in a world where Jose Molina is intentionally walked, and I don’t think anyone else does either.

But back to Doc and the demise of the two-time defending National League champion Philadelphia Phillies …

I feel like I owe the Mets an apology. Prior to the season I didn’t give the Mets a chance at winning the division. I’m not sure if it was the Halladay trade, the fact that the Phillies had been to the last two World Series or me simply choosing against a Jerry Manuel managed team, but I pretty much saw this summer as a lost one for Mets fans. How could I have been so naïve?

Yes, the Phillies have the best lineup in the NL on paper, but without Jimmy Rollins, the lineup isn’t the same, and even with him, their pitching staff outside of Halladay (outside of his two interleague performances) is abysmal. After Doc, it’s a steady drop off to Cole Hamels, and after Hamels it’s a freefall to Kyle Kendrick, Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer. I’m not sure if the Phillies will survive the 162-game season, and if they do, maybe they could survive a five-games series, but a seven-game series? Not a chance.

Do I think the Phillies are bad as they have been? No. But I also don’t think they are as good as they were when they started the season and everyone thought they could run away and hide with the division. We’re talking about a team that got shut out by the Mets for an entire three-game series.

I’m sure Roy Halladay and the Phillies will be happy when interleague plays ends, the way every other NL team that has to face the AL East and every NL starter is. It might have been one start against the Yankees, and it might just be two starts combined against his old foes from the AL East, but the man who was once the most feared pitcher on the planet is now part of baseball’s retirement home: the National League.

It’s the same place Johan Santana resides, and where Cliff Lee might go this offseason. It’s the place that has allowed Jamie Moyer to pitch into his late 40s and might let him pitch until his children’s children have children, and the place that extended the career of Randy Johnson until he could get win No. 300. It’s the home of the pitcher hitting, sacrifice bunts and wasted outs

It’s the National League: Baseball’s natural performance-enhancing drug.