In Roy they trust: Halladay gets NL starting nod
Phillies right-hander earns assignment on strength of 11-3 record
PHOENIX -- Roy Halladay has not lost a baseball game in nearly two months.
His new teammates hope that trend continues on Tuesday.
National League manager Bruce Bochy on Monday named Halladay his starting pitcher for Tuesday's All-Star Game at Chase Field, placing one of the game's best pitchers on one of its biggest stages.
"It's always a great experience to come and play here, and to get a chance to go out and compete against the best players is something you look forward to," Halladay said. "It's a tremendous honor for me."
"I couldn't have a better guy to start the All-Star Game for us," Bochy said. "You talk about the elite pitchers in the game and you look at his numbers this year, and it's obvious he's very deserving."
He was slightly more deserving, Bochy decided, than Braves starter Jair Jurrjens, widely considered the runner-up for Tuesday's start. And the numbers support that decision.
In his second season with the Phillies, Halladay has submitted a carbon copy of his stat line from a year ago, posting an 11-3 record and a 2.45 ERA over his first 19 starts. He was 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA last year in winning the NL Cy Young Award, the only differences this year coming in the form of minor improvements -- Halladay is striking out batters at a higher rate than he did last season, while allowing fewer home runs.
NL STARTING NINE
Since May 20, he is 6-0 with a 2.65 ERA, 65 strikeouts and six walks.
Compare that to Jurrjens, who is 12-3 overall with a 1.87 ERA, but who has pitched significantly fewer innings than Halladay with less than half as many punchouts and more free passes. As Jurrjens himself admitted of the selection, "It's Halladay. You cannot go wrong with him."
"He deserves it," Jurrjens said. "He's been here longer and he's been doing this for a long time. He's one of the best. You can't go wrong with Cy Halladay. He's one of the best pitchers. That's why they call him the Doc."
"When you talk about the best, this guy is always at the top," Bochy said. "It's been like this the last few years. So I'm really looking forward to seeing him start the game, and I'm excited that I could name him the starter."
A member of seven other All-Star rosters, Halladay has started one other time, for the American League in 2009, allowing three runs in a game that the AL ultimately won. Back then, however, he was pitching for a Blue Jays team without realistic playoff aspirations. Now, he is starting for the Phillies, who entered the All-Star break with the best record in baseball. Propelling the National League to a second straight victory would ensure home-field advantage for Halladay's Phillies if they are able to advance to the World Series for the third time in four years.
"Doc is one of the best pitchers of our generation, and you've got to have a lot of confidence in him," said left-hander Cole Hamels, Halladay's teammate in both Philadelphia and in Arizona this week. "I get to see him every five days. A lot of people don't. With the work ethic that he has, he puts a lot of confidence in the team. So to have him start, he's going to do what he does best, and I think that's going to put us in a really good position to win. Because this game means something, you want that."
Halladay will start opposite Jered Weaver of the Angels, against a lineup loaded with left-handed sluggers.
In the days leading up to Monday's announcement, Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee offered some hesitation at the prospect of Halladay starting the All-Star Game, knowing such an assignment would probably require him to pitch two innings in Phoenix instead of one. Given the necessary rest after such an outing, that could push Halladay's first second-half start back to next Monday against the Cubs, rather than Sunday against the Mets.
For Halladay, however, the All-Star start is an honor worth pursuing, allowing him to lead a staff that also includes rotation-mates Hamels and Cliff Lee.
"I think you're always excited to be involved and be a part of that," Halladay said. "Obviously as players we want to win games, but I think also you're always trying to keep the best interest of the game in mind. This is a great chance to do that, and to showcase baseball all over the world."