Just two years removed from throwing a perfect game, no-hitter and winning the national league Cy Young, Halladay struggled to complete just 25 starts last year. He pitched a career-low 1.2 innings in his penultimate start and was consistently burned by giving up the long ball.
Unlike in the past two years, when Halladay got into trouble, he seemed unable to get out of it.
But that was last year.
Both Halladay and the Phillies no doubt expect 2013 to be different. The question, however, is just how different or how much better can both parties realistically expect Halladay to be? He is, after all, 35 years old and has logged an incredibly high 2,687.1 innings in his 14-year career. The man has always been a horse, but eventually, it has to be believed that this will catch up to him.
That said, Halladay has remained relatively healthy for the majority of his career and has definitely been one of the best pitchers in the game over the past 10 years.
He has won an average of 16.5 wins in the last 11 years and should be coming into this season, rehabbed and good to go. Much of what Halladay can and will do will be dependent on how he starts the season. Keeping that in mind, Phillies fans should be pretty optimistic about what I'm going to say next.
Last year was an abnormality, the exception and not the norm for Halladay.
He will rebound in 2013, he will start more than 25 games and he will be healthy for most if not all of the season. The wear and tear of 14 seasons and 2,000-plus innings may take its toll eventually, but I do not expect that to be next season.
Worst-case scenario, last year marked the beginning of Halladay's decline and 2013 will be more of the same. Best-case scenario, Halladay wins 20-plus games and leads the Phillies back to the playoffs and on one last inspired championship run.
My best guess is that his stats will land somewhere in the middle.
Win-Loss Record (18-10)
It may seem like a bit of a bold prediction, but I am going off the thinking that Halladay will pitch in at least 32 games and will do so as healthy as he did in his first two seasons with the Phillies. If that is the case, then expecting the team's ace to win 18 games really shouldn't be that much of a stretch.
Last year, Halladay won just 11 and lost eight of his 25 starts. Since 2002, this win-loss record ranks second worst, besting just an 8-8 season in which Halladay pitched in just 21 games. Noted is that the following season, Halladay upped his win total to 12 and halved his loss total.
When healthy, Halladay is still one of the best pitchers in the game.
In fact, had he not gotten injured early in the season, I am not beyond saying that he gets in the neighborhood of 18-plus wins. If his April stats are to be extrapolated over the course of the season, Halladay would have been 18-12, and that includes a handful of quality starts in which the team just couldn't score runs for him.
Not too shabby, if he had been healthy all season long.
But there is where the biggest question mark comes in. At 35, Halladay is no longer at his peak physical condition.
As I mentioned, he has logged over 2,000 innings and, in addition, has a tough and intense workout regimen he subjects himself to. All with the goal of pitching at his best, Halladay is the first to point out when he isn't and, of course, the first to work toward improvement.
With the disappointment of 2012 behind him, I have no doubt Halladay is going to want to be better and is going to put that thought into reality.
If healthy, Halladay will be an asset to this team and will win 18 games. As far as the losses, I think 10 is also a reasonable number considering that he will be off at times, and of course, there will be times when the Phils just don't score for him.
Walks, Strikeouts (38 BB, 200 SO)
Walks: Over the course of his career, if there is one thing that Halladay can be counted on for, it is a lack of handing out freebies to opposing batters.
Last year in just 156.1 innings, he walked a pretty high 36 batters. In fact, this was the highest number of walks given out in his three-year career with the Phils. Since 2002, Halladay has only walked over 40 batters twice, an incredible feat for someone who regularly pitches over 200 innings a season.
Again, going off the thinking that Halladay will be healthy in 2013, do not expect his walk total to exceed 40 next year either. More than win-loss, however, the health of his arm and his back are really the biggest factors in determining how on target his control is.
As a result, I am going to chalk his walk total up to the injury. With that taken care of, he'll be back to his old self when it comes to bases on balls.
Strikeouts: Halladay has never really been considered a power pitcher over the course of his career, which is surprising considering his success. Halladay pitches to contact and lets batters get themselves out. He does throw strikeouts when needed, however, and has a great out pitch in his curveball.
That said, Halladay, who is never satisfied with how he pitches, managed to improve his strikeouts in the past five years. With the exception of last season, Halladay topped the 200-strikeout plateau each season, marking the only seasons besides 2003 in which he managed this feat.
With little margin to spare, I predict Halladay's strikeouts will fall somewhere between 185 and 215 next year, with a guess that the number lands exactly at the 200 mark. Again, however, this all depends on his health. With the expectation that Halladay's injury was not the sign of a failing body, I think 200 strikeouts is not only possible but probable in 2013.
ERA/WHIP (2.68 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)
When Halladay is at his best, he is doing multiple things well. The first of which is pitching to contact and minimizing mistakes. The second of which is limiting the amount of runners on base from scoring.
With the exception of last season, Halladay, who has pitched at his best as of recently, has had an ERA of under three in each of the last four seasons. In his Cy Young-winning season, his ERA was a fantastic 2.44, bested only by the 2.35 he posted the following season.
If Halladay's April stats from 2012 are to be taken for anything, it can realistically be expected that his ERA would have been right around the marks he has posted the past two seasons while in the National League. In fact, in 37 innings over the course of five starts, Halladay gave up just eight earned runs and, most importantly, zero home runs.
Halladay has been pretty consistent since 2002 in terms of the amount of hits he gives up in a season. He has given up approximately less than 15 to 20 hits per inning pitched in most of his last 11 seasons. Only twice has he given up more hits than innings pitched.
Going along with his low walk total, Halladay has for the most part had a very solid WHIP. Expect that to say the same next year. He should give up about 215 hits, and I expect that he will pitch around 220 to 230 innings.
For this reason, his WHIP should sit at around 1.10.
2013 Predicted Stat Line: 18 W, 10 L, 38 BB, 200 SO, 2.68 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
So while Halladay may not be a Cy Young contender in 2013, and while he may not even be the best pitcher on the Phillies staff (bonus prediction: Cole Hamels will win 20 games in 2013), I have no reason to think that Halladay won't be among one of the best pitchers in the National League.
Yes he is 35, and yes he has logged a considerable amount of innings, but at the same time, the injury is really the first he has had of that variety and in my opinion is a fluke. If Halladay had previous injury issues, then yes, one should be suspicious. That isn't the case, however.
Even if he is slowing down and age and wear and tear will soon factor in, this is likely Halladay's last season in a Phillies uniform. For this reason, expect him to perform at a high level and maybe, just maybe, put the Phils in a position to once again make the playoffs.