SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 16, 2013

What's up Doc? Halladay's struggles are a concern

Fantasy Forecast
Andy Silva

---- — For a long time there has been little to worry about with Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay. He notched 15-plus wins each season from 2006 to 2011 and his highest earned run average during that period was 3.71 in 2007.

But Halladay struggled some last season, admittedly dealing with some injury issues, going just 11-8 with a 4.49 ERA and looking a little more vulnerable than we’re used to seeing him look.

Unfortunately for him and the Phillies, his struggles have continued this spring. It’s hard to put too much stock into Spring Training stats, but Halladay has been roughed up and his velocity is way down. He gave up seven runs on six hits to a Tigers lineup which did not even include Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder. More disturbingly, his velocity was reportedly clocked at 84-85 mph according to reports and his command eluded him, giving up four walks in 69 pitches. Halladay’s velocity has been on the downturn for a number of years anyways, but it’s especially concerning given that he’s getting older and did have injury issues in 2012.

Halladay claims he feels fine, but said he did feel lethargic on the mound on Tuesday due to a changed workout routine. But the reality is, as the old saying goes, that time waits for no man. Even Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro admitted this week he was concerned, saying on a Philadelphia radio program that on a scale of one to 10 his concern level was at “probably a five and a half or six.”

Even given my reluctance to give too much weight to Spring Training stats, I think I will be avoiding Halladay unless he falls significantly and can be had as a bargain. Halladay is currently going, on average, in the late fifth round in standard Yahoo! leagues. That is way too high for me and I highly doubt I’ll be owning the former Cy Young winner on any of my teams.

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Another pair of pitchers I’m not entirely on board with are the Dodgers’ Zach Greinke and the Blue Jays’ R.A. Dickey.

Let’s start with Greinke. He’s being drafted, on average, in the middle of the fourth round ahead of guys like Madison Bumgarner, Adam Wainwright, Gio Gonzalez and Yu Darvish — all of whom I like better. I think people are being swayed by the megacontract Greinke signed in the offseason (six years, $147 million). Greinke was good last season, but I don’t think he was truly great. He’s been an all-star once, and really only had the one great season (his Cy Young campaign in 2009).

More over, Greinke is being limited by elbow inflamation and reports out of Los Angeles yesterday suggested that he is a “longshot” to be ready for Opening Day at this point.

On the plus side, he was cleared to resume throwing, but on the discouraging side was the face Greinke said earlier in the week that even after being examined he still wasn’t sure exactly what was wrong with his elbow. I already thought it was slightly overrated, but now with questionable health and a vague diagnosis of elbow troubles there’s a number of red flags surrounding the Dodgers’ No. 2 pitcher.

As for Dickey, there’s no denying he had a great season last year. But, let’s not get carried away.

Dickey is being drafted early in the fifth round in Yahoo! leagues, again ahead of the above mentioned pitchers being drafted after Greinke. Let’s not forget that last season’s 20-6 record is an outlier among Dickey’s career stat lines. He’s spent a considerable amount of time in the minors since making his major league debut with the Rangers in 2001 and, as all Red Sox fans are familiar, the knuckleball is a very fickle thing. It could be fluttering all over the place one day and flat as can be the next day.

Now, playing in a dome could be beneficial for the knuckler. But it comes at the price of moving to the American League. Even though it looks like it could be a down year in the AL East, it’s still going to be an adjustment for Dickey. In general, the AL is a more hitter-friendly league and not getting to pitch to the opposing pitcher means one more legitimate hitter for Dickey to face each time through the lineup.

As I said above, the knuckleball is fickle, so it’s not completely outside the realm of possibility for Dickey to put together another great season. But forgive me if I’m skeptical about a career journeyman breaking through at age 37. Needless to say, I won’t be owning Dickey on any of my teams.

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Andy Silva writes the Fantasy Forecast for The Salem News. Contact him at ASilva@salemnews.com and follow him on Twitter @SN_Fantasysport.