Roy Halladay was the best pitcher in baseball for approximately ten years. During his first two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies', this era's version of Walter Johnson continued to force hitters across the major leagues to fail. As he attempts to push his way back to the top of his game this season, it's fair to speculate if he and his right arm can rebound.
Since first breaking into the major leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998, Halladay has thrown over 2,700 combined regular and postseason innings. His famous workout regimen enabled a steady stream of 200+ seasonal innings performances.
The right lat strain that “Doc” first felt last spring caused him to miss a chunk of the season. It also cut the 34-year-old's start total down to 25 games, his innings total down to 156.33 and likely prevented the Phillies from extending his expiring contract past this season.
But, no one should count this two-time Cy Young Award winner out. Least we forget that he threw a perfect regular season game and a no-hitter in his first-ever playoff game just three seasons ago. Halladay, like many great pitchers throughout history, is capable of willing himself to success by using his baseball experience and whatever remains of his physical talent.
“The Big Train” (Johnson) only started 15 games for the Washington Senators in 1920. During that season he only threw 143.67 innings and went 8-10. The 33-year-old bounced back in 1921 to start 32 games, throw 264 innings and go 17-14.
Yes, the eras were different and no two men are truly comparable. But, some middle-aged pitchers are fully capable of working their way back to their own historical form. The great ones make it happen.