In 2011 Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter faced off in battle against his buddy and fellow pitching legend Roy Halladay in one of the most epic playoff pitching duels in baseball history.
When the dust cleared, the two throwback hurlers allowed only one run between them. It was the Cardinals who dented the plate with a lone tally to make Carpenter the complete game winner.
It's a bummer just a year and a half removed from their fantastic battle to see Carpenter on the shelf with a career-threatening shoulder injury that ruined his 2012 season. And now it seems Halladay's not far behind on the road to oblivion.
Word out of Phillies camp in Clearwater, Fla. is that Halladay's fastball is topping out at 85 miles an hour this spring. Meanwhile, his control has been terrible. Not good news about a guy who used to hit the high 90s while painting the corners.
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Halladay has a 7.36 ERA this spring with a three homers allowed in 11 innings of work. He's managed to strike out nine opponents with his depleted stuff. But he's walked six batters and hit another.
One could attribute Halladay's high ERA and curious control to spring experimentation or to off-season rust. But when his heater's struggling to reach the mid 80s there's definitely enough going on there to raise an eyebrow or two. Especially when the subject in question is going to be 36 in two months.
Hopefully the Phillies star pitcher will find another gear before the season starts. While he can probably find a way to be mediocre if his shoulder was hanging by a thread, nobody wants to see a pitcher who is arguably the best hurler in baseball over the last decade go out with a whimper.