Phillies

Roy Halladay elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Roy Halladay elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Roy Halladay, the intelligent, intense and highly competitive pitcher who thrilled Phillies fans with a perfect game and a playoff no-hitter, has received his sport’s highest honor.

Halladay, as announced Tuesday night, was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. The right-hander was named on 85.4 percent of the ballots cast by veteran members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, far surpassing the required 75 percent for election.

Halladay’s first-ballot election comes just 14 months after he was killed at the age of 40 in a plane crash off the west coast of Florida. Halladay’s death hit family and former teammates hard and he was remembered in a touching memorial at the Phillies’ spring training stadium in Clearwater, Florida, on Nov. 14, 2017.

In addition to Halladay, former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, starting pitcher Mike Mussina and Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez were also elected to the Hall of Fame. Like Halladay, Rivera, arguably the greatest closer ever, was elected in his first year of eligibility.

Halladay, Rivera, Mussina and Martinez will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame during induction ceremonies July 21 in Cooperstown, New York.

Halladay is the second player with Phillies ties to be elected to the Hall of Fame in as many years. Jim Thome was a first-ballot selection last year.

Like Thome, Halladay spent the majority of his career in the American League but added to his Hall of Fame résumé during his time in Philadelphia.

Halladay won a Cy Young Award (in 2003) and made six AL All-Star teams during 12 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays from 1998 to 2009. He was traded to the Phillies before the 2010 season and quickly made his mark on the team by tossing just the second perfect game in franchise history. It came on May 29, 2010, against the Miami Marlins in his 11th start with the Phillies.

Later in the 2010 season, Halladay threw a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Division Series. Halladay went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA in 33 starts during that regular season. He led the majors in innings (250 2/3), complete games (9) and shutouts (4) that season and won the NL Cy Young Award.

Halladay continued his dominance for the Phillies in 2011, going 19-6 with a 2.39 ERA in 32 starts and finishing second in the Cy Young voting. The Phillies won a club record 102 games that season but were eliminated from the postseason in a painful, 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Halladay pitched brilliantly in that game, allowing just one run over eight innings, but his good friend and former Toronto teammate Chris Carpenter was even better in holding the Phillies scoreless over nine innings to lead the Cardinals to the victory.

Halladay was known for his cerebral preparation before games and a legendary work ethic that included pre-dawn workouts in spring training. Despite these intangibles, he struggled with back and shoulder injuries during his final two seasons in Philadelphia and retired after the 2013 season. He finished his career with a record of 203-105. In addition to two Cy Young Awards, he finished in the top five of the voting five other times. He was posthumously awarded a place on the Phillies’ Wall of Fame last summer. He is also recognized with a spot on the Toronto Blue Jays’ Level of Excellence. Next stop: Cooperstown.

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Bryce Harper's first home run as a Phillie sounded just as sweet as you dreamed

Bryce Harper's first home run as a Phillie sounded just as sweet as you dreamed

We've seen him do it in batting practice, but that's just not the same. Not the same as the crack of a bat against another MLB team, and not the same as rounding the bases for the first time as a Phillie. 

Bryce Harper stepped to the plate for his first at-bat on Thursday afternoon, and he absolutely rocked the first-pitch from Blue Jays pitcher Sam Gaviglio over the right field fence at Spectrum Field. The sound, folks ... it's as sweet as you dreamed. Watch it above. 

And it appears he even took a page out of Rhys Hoskins' playbook, throwing up the horns after crossing home plate. 

The first of many, many Harper home runs we'll be seeing over the next 13 years. Get used to that sound, Philly. 

 

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Phillies pitcher Nick Pivetta could cause some (good) problems this year

Phillies pitcher Nick Pivetta could cause some (good) problems this year

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Ask anyone in the Phillies organization which player is most poised for a big leap forward this season and the name Nick Pivetta leaps off the tongue like a 98-mph fastball.

“I would be inclined to believe that also,” a veteran scout from another club said after watching Pivetta strike out eight Detroit Tigers in five innings on Wednesday.

“Both of his breaking balls are good and the fastball had lots of hop today. He used his curveball to finish guys. It was fun to watch. I hadn’t seen him in a while. He’s gotten better. He’s going to cause some problems for teams.”

Pivetta, who turned 26 last month, was acquired from Washington for Jonathan Papelbon in a rebuild trade in July 2015. He has made 58 starts and pitched 297 innings for the Phils the last two years. Though he went 7-14 with a 4.77 ERA last year, he finished fifth in the NL with 10.32 strikeouts per nine innings. The Phillies’ analytics department has collected other statistical evidence that suggests the right-hander is ready for a breakout season. For instance, he had a FIP (fielding-independent pitching) of 3.75 last season. That ranked 24th among big-league starters.

So, what does Pivetta think of the widely held belief that his talent and experience are ready to come together and produce something special?

“I think with me, it’s about ignoring the white noise,” he said. “I still have a job to do and a long ways to go.”

He did acknowledge that, “I feel like I’ve grown as a pitcher. I’m just working on doing it over and over again.”

Pivetta did not have his crispest fastball of the spring Wednesday and he still touched 98 mph. He averaged 94-95 mph. He allowed a solo homer on a hanging slider to Josh Harrison, but threw a number of other excellent breaking balls.

“There were a couple of notable at-bats where he was pretty much untouchable,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “His ceiling is really, really high and, obviously, the stuff is on par with anybody in the league. As we sat and watched the game today, one of the things we kept saying was, ‘That’s A-plus, elite stuff.’ We’ve known that for some time and he is starting to harness it a little bit.”

Kapler mentioned the importance of focus and concentration in Pivetta’s bid to take his game to another level.

“And if he gets to that level of focus for six or seven innings, we have as good a starter as any in the league,” Kapler said.

The manager then confirmed his confidence in Pivetta by announcing that he will slot the pitcher second in the rotation behind Aaron Nola.

So it will be Nola, Pivetta and Jake Arrieta in the season-opening series against the Braves.

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