Philadelphia Phillies: Starting Roy Halladay Too Soon a Mistake, Win or Lose

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIAugust 25, 2013

For his sake, you have to hope Halladay really is ready to go.
For his sake, you have to hope Halladay really is ready to go.Rich Schultz/Getty Images

What the Philadelphia Phillies are doing Sunday in starting Roy Halladay against the Arizona Diamondbacks is a classic symptom of a diseased franchise.

Halladay is returning to the major leagues for the first time in almost four months, per Jim Salisbury of

His last start for the Phillies was also at home and also on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.

The result, of course, was less than sunny.

Halladay was torched by the Hapless Miami Marlins for nine earned runs after getting only seven outs.

After watching Halladay throw behind Marlins hitters—not on purpose, but because his shoulder would not let him place the ball with anything resembling accuracy—the Phillies finally accepted reality and shut him down.

Halladay was set for a rehab start at Double-A Reading Sunday. Those Reading Fightin Phils fans who bought tickets for the clash with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats are going to be plenty disappointed.

Last night's 18-inning loss to the Diamondbacks didn't just cost the Phillies a game in the standings—they burned Sunday's originally scheduled starter, Tyler Cloyd, in the process. The Phillies cannot be faulted for that untimely turn of events. They had to try to win the game, and using Cloyd for extended innings in that situation was the right decision.

What they can be faulted for, though, is not having another pitcher in Reading or Triple-A Lehigh Valley who they could bring up to take this start.

Just four days ago, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News headed a blog post with "Roy Halladay doesn't look ready to to face major league hitters."

Commenting on Halladay's start this week pitching for Class A Lakewood, Murphy noted that "Halladay was adequate enough to to hold a Class A lineup to two runs in six innings."

However, Murphy also saw that Halladay "went through a few stretches where he appeared to suffer variations of the same problems that plagued him throughout April and May, when he allowed 33 runs in 34 1/3 innings over seven starts."

Oh boy.

And now, not even a week later, Halladay and his iffy shoulder are going to take on an Arizona Diamondbacks team that knocked a healthy Ethan Martin out of the game in two-thirds of an inning last night.

At present, there are no quotes available from Halladay about his feelings on the decision to expedite his return.

One can easily imagine that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and manager Ryne Sandberg asked Halladay if he could go, and he told them yes.

He told Amaro and Charlie Manuel he could go against the Marlins in May, too.

There is no good reason—not one—to start Halladay against the Diamondbacks today if he is not 100 percent healed and competent to face major league hitters.

The Phillies are hopelessly out of playoff contention and are playing out the string.

The best-case scenario is that Halladay pitches well and wins the game. That would be nice, sure, but it would not mean much in the big picture.

The worst-case scenario, of course, is that Halladay gets bombed again and comes off the mound citing discomfort in the process. Or worse.

However it turns out, though, this is a foolish decision by a franchise that lately cannot get out of its own way.


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