There was a lot of talk during spring training about Roy Halladay's velocity being down. That was quickly forgotten when Halladay won his first three starts, compiling an ERA of 1.17 while allowing just three earned runs in 23 innings.
Since then, the Phillies have lost three straight Halladay starts. How rare is that? It never happened in 2011. As a matter of fact, the Phillies didn't even lose their third Halladay start until the 54-game mark last season and didn't lose their fourth until the 95th game.
The last time the Phillies lost three consecutive Halladay starts was 2010 when they lost 2-0 to Florida, 8-3 to the Yankees and 4-1 to Minnesota. Those were in games numbered 58, 62 and 67. After their first three wins with Halladay this season, the Phillies were an amazing 49-19 (.721) with him on the mound.
So are there valid reasons to be concerned about Halladay?
Well, first off, Halladay left the Phillies after the game Wednesday night to attend to a personal matter. While that wouldn't indicate anything is wrong with him physically, something mentally could be affecting his performance.
Halladay has always been known as a cerebral pitcher who prepares meticulously for every start. Personal issues could be affecting that preparation.
On the physical side, Halladay's velocity is down. He typically would hit 93-94 mph in 2010 and 2011, and he's just not getting there this season. Over his last three starts, Halladay is 0-2 with a 6.05 ERA.
In Wednesday night's game, after being given a generous six-run lead, Halladay started pounding the strike zone. But the Braves were able to bleed a few hits together. Then Halladay hung a fat cutter in the middle of the plate and Phillies' killer Brian McCann destroyed it.
Halladay not being able to make it through the sixth inning depleted the bullpen and forced Michael Schwimer and Brian Sanches to pitch in unfamiliar roles.
In summary, yes, the Phillies and their fans do need to be concerned about Halladay. His mental makeup and physical tools both appear to be trending downward. Ruben Amaro's master plan of winning another championship based on pitching might be blowing up right in front of his eyes.
Cliff Lee is already on the shelf. Wouldn't it be something if when Ryan Howard and Chase Utley finally get healthy, two of the three stud pitchers the Phillies trot out there are unable to perform.