LOS ANGELES — The last month has been about the returns that could change the Phillies fortunes this season.
First it was Chase Utley to spark the lineup. Then came Ryan Howard to complete the lineup.
Finally, Roy Halladay is back in the Phillies rotation.
Halladay will return from the disabled list on Tuesday evening after missing nearly two months with a right lat strain.
The Phillies right-hander was 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA in 11 starts.
While Halladay was sidelined with the injury, Kyle Kendrick filled his spot in the rotation. Kendrick did not pitch too bad as he compiled a 3.13 ERA in eight starts. He just couldn’t seem to get in the win column.
The Phillies needed to take their time with Doc and make sure he was 100% before being activated. He struggled in the early portion of the season and wasn’t the Halladay of old.
But the fact of the matter is that starting pitching is the key for the Phillies to get back into the playoff picture.
Halladay finished in the top five of the NL Cy Young vote last season and clearly still has what it takes to be a top-of-the-rotation starter.
If you take out the two starts that Halladay gave up five and eight runs respectively, he had a 2.38 ERA which is right where he has been the last two seasons. Doc had a 2.38 ERA last year and a 2.44 ERA in 2010.
The stuff was still there regardless of struggles. And if it continues to be, the Phillies can get back into it with strong pitching.
One of the reasons that Halladay’s return is such a big deal is because of his presence.
During the past two seasons, when the Phillies were in need of a win, they knew that they could count on him to stop a losing streak. Halladay is a stopper and always could be counted on to go out and get a win.
His presence on the mound can put fear into opposing hitters. Doc is a big, intimidating figure with some of the best stuff in baseball.
All in all, Doc could be the key to how the Phillies finish the season. Cliff Lee and Vance Worley have struggled at times and are nowhere near what they were in 2011.
If the Phillies want any shot of making the postseason, Halladay will have to pitch like a Cy Young award winner.