At 6-6, 225 lbs, and legs like tree trunks, Roy Halladay was tailor-made to being a workhorse type starting pitcher. He was so big, strong, and well-conditioned, that he made pitching a complete game (something he did quite frequently) look like a walk in the park.
To look at Halladay’s career statistics, and see those 67 complete games and 20 shutouts, his numbers are more in line with what you’d find in the early 1900’s as opposed to someone who pitched the bulk of their career in the 21st century. Ron Darling said it perfectly on the MLB Network yesterday, that “Halladay may be the last true workhorse we see in this game.” The way starting pitchers are babied these days, combined with the increased dependency on bullpens, Halladay may very well be the last pitcher we see go deep into ball games as regularly as he did.
As mentioned, Halladay threw a remarkable 67 complete games over his career. Having started 390 games, this works out to a complete game in 17% of his starts. This past season alone, all the pitchers in baseball combined for 54 piddly complete games!! These days you’re happy if you can get 6-innings from your starting pitcher…but with Halladay, it was normal for him to go out and work into the 8th inning.
Perhaps the most fascinating stats having to do with Halladay working late into games has to do with how often he pitched into the 6th inning or later. In his 390 career starts, he pitched into the 6th inning or better in 343 of them, into the 7th inning or better in 280 of them, into the 8th inning or better in 149 of them, and into the 9th inning 72 times. In 2003, the year of his first Cy Young award, he pitched into at least the 6th inning in 35 of his 36 starts. In that same year, he had a September to remember, when he made 6 starts and had 5 complete games, two of which were shutouts, including a 10-inning performance where he threw just 99 pitches in a 1-0 win over the Tigers.
Halladay’s ability to go late into games is made that much more impressive considering that he did most of his work while playing in the toughest division in baseball when both the Yankees and Red Sox were favoured to win the World Series almost annually. He was a great pitcher who was made even greater on account of how much of a workload he could handle, and it’ll be a long time (if ever) before we see another one like him.