Roy Halladay has become a disaster.
Concerns in spring training over Halladay's pitching prowess cascaded into the regular season Wednesday night when the former Philadelphia Phillies ace allowed five earned runs in 3.1 innings pitched.
Despite the horrific outing, optimists will beat their drums over Halladay's nine strikeouts in less than four innings. Either way, the bitter overcomes the sweet in this entire ordeal. Doc is no longer the pitcher baseball fans have grown accustomed to; Halladay has changed and it will only be for the worse so long as he does not adapt.
According to Dictionary.com, realism is an "interest in or concern for the actual or real, as distinguished from the abstract, speculative, etc." It is now time to be adherent to realism.
On Wednesday, Halladay delivered a spike in velocity from his innings pitched in Clearwater, Florida. However, the vast majority of the pitches thrown were sinkers or cutters; therefore, the lack of fastballs may have prolonged a looming decline in velocity later in the game. At any rate, this decline appears perpetual.
A subjective debate could ensue for ages as to whether or not Halladay's ills are mental or physical. We simply do not know. What we do know is that something has changed. Addressing the issue of Halladay's evolution (or devolution), requires the forethought of turning inward and analyzing whether or not the answer can be found within the organization.
So long as Halladay's performance is detrimental to the club, the Phillies must act. If not, the boo birds will be singing in Citizen's Bank Park.
In answering the Halladay question from within the Phillies organization, three pitchers come to mind. Lefty Jesse Biddle and right-handed throwers Tyler Cloyd and Jonathan Pettibone are the most talented pitchers down on the farm.
With a four-pitch repertoire, Biddle has the most upside of the trio; however, 2013 will be the first season he'll pitch beyond Single-A. An All-Star in the Florida State League, Biddle will likely emerge as a formidable starter, but he is at the very least one year away from a rotation spot with the Phillies.
Cloyd, an 18th-round pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, surprised many last year as he ascended from the depths of the farm system to a prominent late-season role in the majors. While Cloyd did make one appearance in 2011, his rapid climb in 2012 astonished onlookers.
Without many tricks up his sleeve, Cloyd relies on precise control to be effective. Having little margin of error, it's unlikely he could be a fixture at the back end of a rotation for many years at the major league level. If anything, Cloyd represents a limited band-aid to the woes the Phillies face from the uncertainty regarding Halladay.
The present solution appears to be Pettibone. Working downhill due to his tall frame, Pettibone is stockpiling a three-pitch variety while continuing to work on his cutter. With an effortless delivery, he appears to have the makeup to endure through an entire season of pitching from day one.
Pettibone lacks the ceiling of Biddle, but he currently provides the most stability. Despite missing the ability to maintain a high strikeout rate, he will be a manageable innings eater in the middle of the rotation.
Naysayers will pump their chest and declare this to be an overreaction to Halladay's woes. Simply put, they are wrong. Jumping off of the Halladay bandwagon last season would have been an overreaction.
Realistically pointing out Halladay's deficiencies as they are is a confirmation of the ills which are troubling him. No longer a spring chicken, the soon-to-be 36-year-old has become more of a liability than a contributor to a club that has the potential to compete in the postseason.
If nothing else, Halladay's inability to hack it makes the Phillies worse, not better. It is time to answer the Halladay question. At this point in time, that answer can only come from within.