There’s a true heavy-weight battle afoot in Miami.
In the blue corner, the challenger. Weighing in 250 pounds and a towering 6’7,” Josh “One day I’ll be perfect” Johnson!
And in the red corner, the Cy Young award winner. Weighing in at 230 pounds and measuring in at 6’6,” Mr. Perfect himself, Roy Halladay!
Halladay and Johnson are creating a magical rivalry within the NL East that Phillies and Marlins fans anticipate each series. Standing tall, figuratively and metaphorically, over the NL, two of the game’s best pitchers will square off for the third time since Halladay joined the division in 2009.
Last season, each pitcher bested each other once. May 29 swung in favor of Halladay and June 10 belonged to Johnson.
On May 29, Johnson went seven inning without allowing an earned run. But he did let up a run on an error, the only run Halladay needed in his win. Doc wasn’t just better than Johnson, he was perfect that day as the Phils won 1-0.
The two met again in Philly less than two weeks later with Johnson out-dueling Halladay. He scattered three hits and a walk over eight innings. Doc went eight as well, but he allowed a run on six hits and a walk in the Phils 2-0 loss to Florida.
The two pitchers have allowed only two runs, one earned, in 32 combined innings their two starts against each other last season. Their offenses, loaded with talent, have been forced to sit there and watch as the two artists sculpted gems in front of our eyes.
But maybe that’s because they have dominated each other’s teams in their careers. Halladay is 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA in seven starts against Florida while playing for Toronto and Philadelphia. Johnson is 5-3 in 13 games, 11 starts in his career vs the Phils with a 3.34 ERA. But last year, he hadn’t allowed an earned run in 15 innings.
This season, both have been among the best in baseball. Halladay is 5-1 with a 2.19 ERA with 57 strike outs in seven starts. In seven starts for Johnson, he’s 3-1 with a 1.68 ERA and 48 strike outs.
Halladay’s presence alone is what keeps hitters lost at the plate. His cut-fastball and this splitter-hybrid pitch he invented in his dreams have been his bread and butter.
Johnson relies on his power. His fastball hits the upper-90’s and he mixes in a deadly slider and change-up that keep hitters off balance. It’s that repertoire that has made him Florida’s prized possession when they signed him to a four-year, $39 million deal before the 2010 season.
Tonight is going to be another match-up to remember. With Philadelphia holding a three-game lead on the second-place Marlins, Halladay can either give his team room within the division or Johnson will keep his squad in pace with the Phils.
It’s a battle of epic proportions and only one will come out on top.
For some more stats, read Pat Gallen’s post from Phillies Nation.