Are the Phillies overworking Roy Halladay?

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Roy Halladay had a rough afternoon against the Red Sox yesterday, giving up a season-high seven runs in a season-low 5.2 innings. It was just the second time in the past 96 starts that he’s allowed seven or more runs, so naturally Todd Zolecki of MLB.com wondered if Halladay’s high workloads had anything to do with the poor outing.
Charlie Manuel replied “not a damn thing” when asked, and Halladay himself was equally as adamant against the workload being to blame:

From the horse’s mouth, it didn’t affect me. It was just a matter of not making good pitches. That’s the bottom line. You prepare yourself obviously all winter and all season to be able to handle the workload. That’s your job as a starting pitcher. I feel like I’ve done that and I feel good going out there.

Which is exactly what you’d expect Halladay to say, because he’s long been perhaps the most durable pitcher in baseball. However, “not making good pitches” is certainly more likely when you’re at something less than full strength, and as Zolecki notes Halladay was coming off a 132-pitch outing that was the second-highest of his career and a four-start stretch of 118, 119, 121, and 132 pitches that was the highest of his career.
I’m not suggesting anyone is to blame here, because even the best pitchers simply have bad games now and then. With that said, rarely has Halladay had this bad a game and even baseball’s premier workhorse can be overworked. That he’s throwing more pitches than ever before in his first two months with the Phillies seems like it could be an example of his new team taking his workhorse reputation a bit too far too soon.
And while both Manuel and Halladay deny it was a factor yesterday, Zolecki reports that Halladay did in fact adjust his pre-start routine by throwing on flat ground rather than the typical bullpen session in an effort to preemptively combat the increased workload. Pitching coach Rich Dubee also said the Phillies plan to give Halladay an extra day between starts whenever the schedule allows, so perhaps everyone involved recognizes the potential issue even if they’re telling reporters otherwise.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.