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.

Justin Verlander: “I’d like to see the AL and NL have the same rules… I vote NL rules.”

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10:  Starting pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Safeco Field on August 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
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On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”

Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:

To that, Archer said:

For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.