Of Roy

The sense of mystery exists no matter how many times one experiences a zero-to-zero score after the third inning. Six regulation innings are left and, sometime between then and now, someone is going to break across. It sounds ridiculous because there are probably hundreds of occurrences of a scoreless game after three innings throughout a season, but it felt like it occurred every time Roy Halladay pitched against the Rays.

Halladay pitched against the Rays six times last season and 34 times throughout his career with Toronto, which is unsurprisingly the third most of his career against any one team. The “story” metrics have him at 12-11 with a 3.67 ERA and four complete games, but never a shutout. Of those six starts in 2009, the scores after three were as follows: 1-0, 1-0, 2-2, 0-5, 3-6, and 2-0. Clearly, factual evidence is not a bedmate of nostalgia.

Nevertheless, two of the most memorable games from the season came from Halladay matchups, the first of which being an early July Thursday matinee where young David Price faced off against Doc. The rumors of a trade were well saturated by this point, but it seemed to affect Halladay not in the least. His final line told of seven innings, zero walks, eight strikeouts, and three earned runs.

The next game came nearly two weeks to the day as Halladay hosted Matt Garza a week before the trade deadline. Both pitchers went nine innings and Garza not only held his own, but showed the potential to be Halladay. He struck out a batter per inning and allowed not a single walk or homer. Halladay would make one pitch fewer despite facing three additional batters. Still, it was the Rays who came out on top at the end.

These games are completely irrelevant to the reader as most have their own memories of Halladay. I should be thrilled. No longer will he reside in the division, poaching divisional victories in those four or five starts. No longer will his scruffy beard have its own close-up approximately a thousand times per outing. No longer will I be jealous of his efficiency and delicate approach to pitching — by getting ahead and relentlessly pounding the zone until the batter grounded out weakly. But I’m not too joyous, because it means no longer will I be regularly exposed to one of the best pitchers of this generation.

Thanks for the memories Roy, now go make some for fans of NL teams.




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15 Responses to “Of Roy”

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  1. Matt B. says:

    That’s funny, as a Jays fan I have always believed Roy has been relatively unlucky against the Rays for most of his career, a team that seems to hit him pretty hard. I remember they had a very aggressive approach, seemingly swinging at the first pitch nearly every time up. Maybe that approach was neutralized by the development of his cutter, especially to the lefties in that lineup? We will miss Roy, he has flown under the radar (fangraphs readers excluded of course) who I feel will thrive in the NL and any intense pressure of a penant race/playoff run. I still think he deserved that Cy Young that Lee won, but oh well!

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    • actionjackson says:

      Matt B.,

      I’m a Jays fan as well. I agree that Doc will thrive in a pennant/playoff type atmosphere due to his relentless focus and preparation. As much as I love the guy I can’t agree with your stance that Halladay deserved the Cy Young over Lee in 2008. Halladay was behind Lee in almost every category that matters. Definitely deserved the runner-up spot, which he got, so no complaints here.

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      • Matt B. says:

        Sorry, strength of schedule alone should net him the award.

        Wins and losses aren’t something a pitcher controls, unless they finish the game (normally) but Halladay had a stretch of 4 straight CGs (yes, 4 straight) and he took a loss in 3 of them.

        The wins and losses are more a result of 4.72 run support vs 6.13, in favour of Lee.

        Don’t get me wrong, Lee is a deserving candidate, but I think Roy all things considered was the better pitcher.

        9 CGs vs 4 for Lee
        4.72 run support vs 6.13
        2 more GS
        lower WHIP
        23 more IP
        36 more Ks
        better K/BB
        better K/9
        lower P/PA
        lower P/IP
        way better GB/FB ratio
        lower opp. OPS and OBP
        way lower opp. BA
        higher AGS (avg game score)
        2nd most quality starts in AL with 23 – tied with Lee

        What stats were you talking about again?

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  2. bender says:

    As a Rays fan, I’m a little sad to see doc leave the division, because we squeezed out a lot more victories against him than did the Red Sox and Yankees, this year at least.

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  3. Troy says:

    A well-written piece R.J., and I must say that I agree with many of the sentiments shared in that piece. Being a Yankee fan (and this isn’t a complaint, so don’t take it as such), it seemed Roy was scheduled for every series the Yankees played against the Jays. Hell, the Yanks didn’t avoid Doc in each of the mini two game sets the Yanks and Jays had this year. And while many times Doc often held the Yankees at bay, he was definitely was a pleasure to watch, knowing that every time Roy pitched, there was the potential to see him do something special on the mound (such as 9/4, when he threw a CG 1 hitter against NY).

    But Roy deserved this trade. Roy has long since deserved to be the ace of a legit World Series contending team. The Phillies are that team, as it turns out, that Doc will finally be able to show his werth in October. He spent a dozen years in relative obscurity, always known to be among baseball’s elite pitchers, but stuck on a perennial also-ran, stuck in a division with the Yankees, Red Sox, and in the past two years, the Rays. Now Roy will finally be in the playoffs, and have a chance to pitch during baseball’s hallowed month, a chance for him to finally win a World Series.

    It’s definitely a sad day for Blue Jays fans, where Doc was their beacon of light for years on a team that could never put a serious run for the AL East or Wild Card together, but it’s a great day for baseball, that Roy will finally have the chance to be showcased in a big market, and for a team that is a definite World Series calibre team.

    Congrats, Roy.

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    • actionjackson says:

      Troy,

      As a Jays fan, I’m so happy for Roy that he will be able to pitch on the stage he deserves. Baseball fans everywhere will now be able to appreciate Roy the pitcher as well as Roy the human being. As much as I wish we could keep him all to ourselves, this is a trade that simply had to happen. Rather than being sad, I’m taking the stance that this is the beginning of turning things around for a franchise that has gone in circles or sideways, unfortunately almost ever since drafting Harry Leroy Halladay III in 1995.

      He deserved so much better than what the previous two regimes gave him. He did almost wash out in 2000 though and I will always be thankful to Gord Ash and Mel Queen for helping him get that turned around, but of course a lot of the credit goes to him for the work ethic he developed when he almost had everything taken away.

      Alex Anthopoulos is the 3rd GM since Pat Gillick, but I think he’s the 1st one that understands that the only way to build a team (absent a huge payroll, but even the Yankees have started to do this) is through the farm system. Right now the Jays farm system is quite easily the worst in the AL East. The Yankees and Red Sox got the jump on them and the Rays have been building theirs up for years. The Orioles system got a huge boost from the Bedard and Tejada trades. The other 4 GMs in the division are very shrewd, so he has his work cut out for him, but with this trade he’s off to a very good start. He’s also jacked up the scouting department from 27 to about 60. I don’t know how the heck you run a scouting department with 27 people, especially when you run your numbers guy (Keith Law) out of town, but whatever. That’s all in the past. Not looking forward to the last place finishes that will happen at some point in the near future. Just happy to see some sort of direction. That’s all I ask.

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  4. Doctor_Teh says:

    Just a quick typo-fix: 2nd to last word in the first sentence should be third, sorry to be so nitpicky! Interesting article!

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  5. Dizzle says:

    Yeah, like Matt B. said, the Rays seem to have been the one team that managed to get to Halladay pretty consistently.

    Something else that popped into my head reading this- for some reason Matt Garza just absolutely destroys the Blue Jays. The Jays just can’t ever seem to figure the guy out. That might be something interesting to explore at some point.

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    • Troy says:

      Perception is reality. Since 2007 against Toronto, Garza is 6-2, 0.81 ERA in 66 1/3 innings, 48 hits, 54 K, 19 BB, .203 BAA, 1 CG and nary a HR allowed.

      Dunno what his FIP is in those starts.

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    • JohnF says:

      Yeah, Yankees fan here, and Halladay was simultaneously infuriating and amazing to watch. I could not conceive how some of the Yankees’ best hitters would just look foolish against him sometimes. But, that’s pretty much anyone when he’s on.

      One game which always springs to mind is a duel he and Chien-Ming Wang had back in September 2007. The Blue Jays won 5-4 after 14 innings. Wang did a very adequate job of holding the Blue Jays at bay, but Halladay’s dominant performance through the first 8 innings is what always sticks out for me(probably because of how angry I was).

      Good luck to him in the NL and I’ll echo the sentiment that it’ll be nice my team doesn’t have to face him anymore, but I will miss seeing him pitch.

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  6. JohnF says:

    Sorry, the above was not meant as a reply.

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  7. NEPP says:

    Halladay against 2nd tier NL lineups will be fun to watch. He may just give Lincecum some competition for the Cy Young next year. He’ll definitely get good run support with the Phillies lineup and he’ll be feasting on the NL.

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  8. Jason says:

    Despite his repeated domination of my Red sox, I’m sorry to see him go. Watching him pitch is such a joy that my inner MLB fan takes the reins for those few starts a year. Hopefully there are a larger number of Phillies games on the national networks for the next few years.

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