Phillies

Baseball Hall of Fame should expedite Roy Halladay's induction

Baseball Hall of Fame should expedite Roy Halladay's induction

Roy Halladay is a Hall of Fame pitcher. I don't think that can be disputed. But I think Halladay should get special dispensation to become a 2018 Hall of Fame pitcher.
 
As of right now, Halladay is not yet eligible for induction. The current rules for eligibility were set in 1954. Players must be retired for five full seasons to be eligible for induction. If a player passes away before becoming eligible, he must be dead for six months before appearing on a ballot. 

Only once since 1954 was an exception made: Roberto Clemente was inducted in 1973, after dying in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972.
 
When the balloting takes place later this month, I believe that exception should be made again, for Halladay.
 
Halladay's death earlier this week hit the Philadelphia sports community hard, myself included. As someone who remembers watching Steve Carlton pitch at the Vet as a child, I was excited when the Phillies traded for Doc before the 2010 season, and bought a partial season ticket plan for the first time. Every time he pitched was appointment viewing, and he delivered, night after night.
 
Although Phillies fans saw only two seasons of Halladay's excellence on the mound, his prime lasted a decade — the 2002 through 2011 seasons. Here are Halladay's ranks among all MLB pitchers during that span:
 
• 170 wins (1st)

• .694 win percentage (1st)

• 63 complete games (1st - by 30!)

• 18 shutouts (1st)

• 4.57 K/BB ratio (1st)

• 2.97 ERA (2nd)

• 148 ERA+ (2nd) — this means his ERA over that span was 48 percent better than league-average

• 2194⅔ innings (2nd)
 
He also made eight All-Star teams, won two Cy Young Awards, and he finished in the top 5 in Cy Young voting seven times in that 10-year span.
 
From 1995-2017, Halladay has more complete games that any pitcher (67). Here's the thing: Halladay only pitched from 1998 through 2013.
 
Being the best pitcher in baseball for a season is a feat. Being the best pitcher in baseball for an entire decade is something that is truly special. We all remember how great Tim Lincecum was at the start of his career. He also won two Cy Youngs. He didn't even make it to 10 full seasons in the big leagues before a degenerative hip injury derailed his career.
 
The end of Roy Halladay's baseball career, and his life, occurred far, far too soon. Voting him into the Baseball Hall of Fame later this month would not be.

Healthy Jerad Eickhoff says, 'The sky is the limit'

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AP Images

Healthy Jerad Eickhoff says, 'The sky is the limit'

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Jerad Eickhoff is an important man in this Phillies season. He needs to be closer to the guy who pitched to a 3.65 ERA in 197 1/3 innings in 2016 than the one who had a 4.71 ERA in 128 innings last season.

It all starts with good health. Eickhoff, 27, missed time with an upper-back strain and a nerve issue near his right shoulder last season.

He is healthy now and has made a tweak in his mechanics to ease pressure on his shoulder. He made his spring debut with two hitless, scoreless innings in a 6-0 exhibition win over the University of Tampa on Thursday (more on the game here). Eickhoff threw 17 pitches, 14 of which were strikes. He struck out two, walked none and hit a batter. 

“No matter what game it is that you pitch in, you get that intensity, there’s a hitter in the box, you still get butterflies being back at it,” Eickhoff said. “Today was a big day, facing some competition. The live batting practice was checking off the first box. A game setting was kind of the second box, so I think the sky is the limit from here. I feel great.”

Eickhoff developed a mechanical flaw last season as his body would often fall toward first base after delivering the ball. That put pressure on his shoulder. He has tried to correct the flaw this winter by holding his glove a little higher before he releases the ball. That helps him get going toward home plate.

If healthy, Eickhoff will be in the starting rotation. (Former bench coach Larry Bowa is high on him). But he’s taking nothing for granted.

“I try to approach every spring like I’m trying to win a job,” Eickhoff said. “I have something to prove every year.”

Notes
• Andrew Knapp caught and batted leadoff. He worked a walk to lead off the game and that impressed manager Gabe Kapler. Kapler advised not to read into batting order positions this early in camp. 

“These are practice settings,” he said.

• The Phillies play their Grapefruit League opener Friday afternoon against the Blue Jays in Dunedin. Rotation candidates Nick Pivetta and Mark Leiter Jr. are expected to get some work. Non-roster invite Francisco Rodriguez, he of the 437 career saves, could also get an inning.

Future closer? Power-armed Seranthony Dominguez dazzles in opener

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USA Today Images

Future closer? Power-armed Seranthony Dominguez dazzles in opener

CLEARWATER, Fla. — This was a nice little glimpse of the future.

Seven of the eight pitchers used by the Phillies in Thursday’s 6-0 exhibition win over the University of Tampa were prospects who likely need a little more time in the minors, but could someday be mainstays in Philadelphia.

Jerad Eickhoff started and pitched two scoreless innings (see story). After him, prospects Jose Taveras, Tom Eshelman, Franklyn Kilome, Enyel De Los Santos, Seranthony Dominguez, Cole Irvin and Ranger Suarez kept the shutout intact. None of the Phillies’ pitchers walked a batter, though Eickhoff did hit one.

“No walks, that’s fairly unusual for spring training,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It was like Command City. Guys were on top of it.”

Kapler singled out Dominguez, a strong-bodied, power-armed, 23-year-old right-hander who earned a spot on the 40-man roster in November. Dominguez allowed a leadoff single in the seventh then came back with three swinging strikeouts, all on high-80s sliders.

“He maintained his composure, had electric stuff and the bravado of a seasoned veteran,” Kapler said.

Dominguez, signed out of the Dominican Republic for $25,000 in 2012, touched 100 mph with his fastball as a starter in the Florida State League early last season. He ended up missing time with biceps tendinitis, but is healthy now. The Phillies have reduced his pitch mix from four to three (fastball, slider, changeup) and he will convert to the bullpen, where he profiles as a potential closer, this season. He is likely to open at Double A Reading. Don’t rule out seeing him in Philadelphia later this season if all goes well.

“As a bullpen guy, he could be a quick mover,” general manager Matt Klentak said.

“He has a top-of-the-scale fastball,” director of player development Joe Jordan said. “He has a chance to really dominate in the late innings.”