04/17/12 9:29 PM ET
Phillies not concerned about Halladay
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
He certainly looks like the same dominant Cy Young Award-caliber pitcher he has been for more than a decade. He allowed two runs in eight innings Monday in a 5-2 victory over the Giants to improve to 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA after three starts. In a league-leading 23 innings, he has allowed just 14 hits, three runs and four walks. He has struck out 14.
But pitch f/x, which MLB.com Gameday uses to chart pitch velocity and movement, has shown a drop in Halladay's velocity, which has stirred discussion and concern among nervous Phillies fans, who already are worried about Ryan Howard's and Chase Utley's health. Halladay's two-seam fastball has averaged 90.71 mph this season, compared to 92.71 mph in 2011, 93.29 mph in 2010 and 93.74 mph in 2009. His cutter has averaged 89.16 mph this season, compared to 91.46 mph in 2011, 92.01 mph in 2010 and 92.00 mph in 2009.
But this season's velocity readings have not been completely accurate for Halladay.
MLB.com gets daily reports from each ballpark with recent data trends to help calibrate its systems. Early in the season, those numbers can be skewed.
Pitch f/x's accepted range for speed bias is within 1 mph in either direction, above or below.
It has been greater than that in each of Halladay's starts.
April 5 at Pittsburgh: -2.07 mph.
April 11 vs. Miami: -1.35 mph.
April 16 at San Francisco: -1.81 mph.
The pitch f/x data has been an average 1.74 mph slower on days Halladay has pitched. Tack on an extra 1.74 mph and Halladay's velocity is almost the same as last season.
Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said he had not been concerned at all about Halladay's velocity, whether or not his fastball is averaging 90 mph or 92 mph.
"He's got four pitches," Dubee said. "He throws to both sides of the plate at any time. And overall he doesn't use the meat of the plate. That's what pitching is about. It isn't about velocity. Velocity allows you one thing. It might allow you to get away with some mistakes. But straight velocity without location, and velocity without an option of being able to go soft or go backwards as far as pure speed, those guys get waffled.
"And like most guys, he hasn't pitched in too good of a climate yet. Last night was a tough one. He got all heated up then sat for 20, 25 minutes [while the Phillies scored four runs in the top of the first inning]. The cold here, the wind, it's hard to get going and get the feel going again."
Interestingly, Halladay is striking out fewer batters early this season. He is averaging 5.5 strikeouts per nine innings, which is his lowest average since 2006 (5.4 strikeouts per nine innings). Halladay averaged 7.9 in 2010 and 8.5 in 2011.
Could that mean something?
"Approaches sometimes," Dubee said. "Guys try to hit early against him. Stuff like that. I'm not worried about strikeouts. Nope."
Dubee added one more thing.
"Look at swings," he said. "Look at swings off guys, the reaction to the assortment of pitches they have. I've seen guys throw 97, 98, and the swings are a whole lot different than somebody 91 or 92 with action, or 92 with separation of a split and a curveball. I've seen guys that just want to wing it up there at 97, 98. It gets loud fast."
Burrell appreciates honor, visits Utley
SAN FRANCISCO -- Former Phillies outfielder Pat Burrell threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday's game at AT&T Park.
Burrell helped the Giants win the 2010 World Series, but spent his first nine big league seasons with the Phillies, helping them win the 2008 World Series. Burrell retired after last season and is working as a scout with the Giants, but will sign a one-day Minor League contract next month to ceremonially retire a member of the Phillies.
Burrell said he is happy the Phillies made the gesture. He remembers how they honored Doug Glanville and Mike Lieberthal the same way.
Burrell is rehabbing from shoulder surgery in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he lives. He frequently sees Chase Utley, who is rehabbing his chronically injured left knee.
"I've talked to him," Burrell said. "I know he's doing everything he can to get back. I just don't know. He doesn't say a whole lot, as you guys know. And I don't want to get into his business. I know he's dying to get back on the field. I think at this point he wants to make sure he's doing everything he can so when he does come back he doesn't have hiccups."
Manuel still a fan of Lincecum
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants ace Tim Lincecum is 0-2 with a 10.54 ERA after three starts this season.
Some Giants fans are nervous, which brought a smile to Phillies manager Charlie Manuel's face.
"If they panic and they don't want him, they can always send him over here," he said before Tuesday's game at AT&T Park. "As a matter of fact, I'll walk over there and show him the way over here. I might pick him up and carry him.
"He's going to be fine. It's early. Things happen. Sometimes things don't go your way and that's kind of what I saw last night. He knows exactly what he's doing. I know people say his velocity is coming down, but we'll see. Three or four more starts and the weather gets better, we'll see where he's at. He's fine. He's good."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.