In 13 years, Roy Halladay has done it all on an individual level. He’s won a Cy Young award, appeared in seven all-star games, and firmly established himself as the best pitcher in baseball. To many baseball fans this wasn’t enough; he still needed to prove his worth on a bigger stage.
This season, he’s finally reached the postseason for the first time in his career. Rather than let the bright lights and increased pressure intimidatehim, Halladay took command and showed the baseball world what he is capable of. Halladay didn’t just win his playoff debut; he was unbelievable. Halladay did the near-impossible: threw a no-hitter and led the Phillies to a 4-0 victory. He only allowed one walk through nine innings, throwing an incredible 79 strikes on just 104 pitches. The Cincinnati Reds’ hitters looked lost all day. They were behind in the count often, and Halladay made them look silly with eight strikeouts, 12 routine groundouts, and just six fly balls.
The Reds could not make good contact all game, with Halladay consistently throwing strikes—and this is a team that was first in the National League in runs scored over the course of the 2010 season. In the biggest game of his career, and against challenging competition, Halladay took charge and made a statement. This should not have surprised baseball fans, given that Halladay has put up Cy Young numbers all season, but all the same, playoff success was the only thing he did not have on his résumé.
Now, Halladay is in a tough series with the San Francisco Giants. Halladay battled the Giants’ ace, Tim Lincecum, who himself had a masterful playoff debut with a 14-strikeout shutout performance against the Braves. Halladay did not have his best stuff in his NLCS debut and took the loss because of lack of control in his cutter. Rest assured, he will be working hard to regain his form. Great pitching will certainly be the decisive factor in this series.
If Halladay’s exceptional career is any indication, his success will likely continue throughout October as the Phillies look to reach the World Series for a third straight season. Halladay has always excelled under pressure, whether it was in big games against the Yankees and Red Sox with Toronto, or this season when he dominated the National League.
He showed in his playoff debut that is competitive nature and incredible physical skills seem to flourish in the pressure-packed atmosphere of playoff baseball.
Fans craving the slugfests associated with the steroid era will likely go without their fix this postseason. Pitcher duels have been the norm, and they have made for some great baseball. The Phillies and Giants are going to test the old adage that pitching wins championships.
If Halladay keeps this up in 2010, it may prove accurate.