How About Halladay?

By Jason Mast

In 2009, when Roy Halladay was still the face of the Blue Jays and the Mets were still within the range of viable contention, New York GM Omar Minaya reportedly came close to a trade that would have put Doc in the blue and orange. In the end, the deal fell apart and Halladay would up with the Phillies, who promptly chewed him up for over 700 innings, 2 long DL stints and a shoulder surgery, and are about to spit him out into free agency.  The Mets should jump at the opportunity to pick him up.

March 17, 2013; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay (34) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Granted, Halladay does have all the signs of washed up veteran.  He’s 36, his velocity has diminished significantly over the last couple of seasons from a 92 MPH average fastball velocity in 2011 to an 88.8 MPH average in 2012, and he has missed approximately 26 starts over the last two seasons. To top it all off, he hasn’t been effective when actually on the mound, posting a 5.15 ERA and -1.8 WAR since the start of 2012.

Yet beneath these stats, is the gym rat with the coal miner’s work ethic. Generally revered as one of the smartest and hardest workers in baseball, Halladay is known for getting up before 5 AM to start his gym routine, an attribute that should help him defy the deteriorating effects of aging in the same manner Nolan Ryan did.

He’ll be 37 next May and his velocity is down, but Halladay has never relied on a blazing fastball to get by, relying instead on superior command and an effective use of his secondary pitches.

Since 2011, fewer than 30% of Halladay’s pitches have been fastballs. The big league average is around 55%. More importantly, he looked much improved since coming back from surgery at the end of last season, posting a 3.78 ERA over his last four starts. Admittedly, control has been an issue as he walked 5.2 batters per nine during the 2013 season and walked 15 in his last 16.2 innings.  However, it’s hard to believe that a control artist like Halladay, who had the best BB/9 in the majors from 2009-2011, will suddenly forget how to throw a strike.  Age reduces velocity, but rarely command.

With Matt Harvey out, the Mets should be looking to bring in a veteran starter. Why not have it be Roy Halladay? He is not likely to command an expensive or multi-year contract, leaving Sandy Alderson room to spend on bats.

Halladay could also serve in an unofficial player-coach capacity. A starter with his expertise and knowledge can only help in the transitioning of the Mets’ many young pitchers from the minors to the show. On a one year deal, the Mets have nothing to lose. If he struggles, it’s only for one year and he can still provide tutelage to his younger brethren. Should he succeed, then the Mets can keep him down the stretch if they’re in contention and ship him off for prospects if they are not.

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