How Much Does Doc Miss Chooch? – Phillies Nation

How Much Does Doc Miss Chooch?

Utley got off on the right foot in the Phillies loss. (AP)

Carlos Ruiz has guided Roy Halladay through many memorable games. Is his absence hurting the Good Doctor? (AP)

Everyone’s got a theory for what’s wrong with Roy Halladay.

The prevailing argument is Halladay is a victim of the unrelenting perpetual forward motion of time, and the effect it has on the body. That, physically, he is no longer the person he once was.

Rich Dubee and Halladay himself have come up with a bevy of excuses as to why Doc has not been himself. Everything from a wet mound to a stomach virus has been thrown out there as a reason for the lack in results. Just yesterday, Dubee pinned Halladay’s shaky start on Wednesday on a lower arm slot.

Whatever ails the once preeminent pitcher, one thing is clear: He is struggling mightily to adapt to his new-found deficiencies. What once was considered a strength for Halladay–the ability to think ahead of hitters–is now something he is lacking.

Everyone can see that Halladay has lost a few ticks on his velocity, yet he continues to pitch with the same strategy as the guy who once could touch 94 on the radar gun. Maybe it’s sheer stubbornness. But without his dominant fastball, he seems lost.

Watching Doc scuffle as he relearns how to pitch, it’s impossible not to wonder how much the absence of Carlos Ruiz is hurting him right now.

In the past, Halladay has been effusive about just how much Ruiz means to him. Following his perfect game in 2010, he was quick to credit the Panamanian catcher for the performance. He did so again when he threw a no hitter in the NLDS later that year. After that season, Halladay even went as far as presenting Ruiz with a replica of the Cy Young award he won. And, of course, there was the MLB 2K commercial Halladay filmed, playing up how much trust he put in Chooch.

Along with Hallday’s own word, the numbers also suggest Doc performs better when Chooch is behind the dish, calling the shots.

Since 2010, Halladay has started 20 games in which Ruiz either didn’t start, or was removed before the fifth inning, when a game becomes official. In those games, Doc has gone 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA. He’s allowed an average of 7.15 hits, while walking 1.35 hitters and striking out 6.4. Those numbers don’t seem bad (This is Roy Halladay we’re talking about, after all). But compared to contests where Doc and Ruiz have been battery mates for the length of the game, they’re quite telling. Halladay has allowed nearly a half run less (2.87 ERA) while going 41-17 when paired with Ruiz. Remarkably, his other statistics have remained about the same (6.44 hits, 1.08 walks and 6.37 strikeouts per start). Only the results have changed. Over the course of their partnership, Ruiz has saved Doc about a half run per game and added about 150 points to his winning percentage.

If Doc were a Jujitsu master, Ruiz would be his wise sensei.

Now, as Halladay faces his biggest challenge as a professional since he was sent to Single-A Dunedin by the Blue Jays in 2001, he is without his most-trusted ally. The frustration in not having Chooch there to guide him as he tries to reinvent who he is as a pitcher must be crushing. The usually reserved Halladay let some of that frustration slip through following his start in Atlanta.

According to Matt Gelb of the Inquirer, Halladay had this to say about Erik Kratz–Ruiz’s stand-in while he serves his suspension–regarding the home run he allowed to Justin Upton in the first: “We went in with a low target, which isn’t what we wanted to do. You’re not going to get him out there. What I wanted to do wasn’t executed.” Halladay also claimed the pitch was “half-hearted.”

The finger-pointing here is concerning because it is so uncharacteristic of Halladay. But it also speaks volumes about how disheartened he is not having Chooch calling his pitches. He’s gone from heaping praise on his battery mate to questioning pitch selection and location.

Maybe it was a comment driven by emotion. Maybe Halladay regretted it after the fact. But the candidness there, the willingness to even suggest there’s an issue between he and his catcher says a lot about Doc’s frame of mind. It’s apparent that he needs Chooch there to lead the way, to recognize his strengths and weaknesses and help him navigate his way through uncharted waters. It won’t help Doc physically, but it’ll pay off in dividends for his mental game.

For now, he can only keep trotting out to the mound, trying to figure things out on his own. Ruiz has 22 games left on his suspension.

I’m betting those 22 games will be the longest Halladay has ever experienced.




  1. Phil

    April 5, 2013 at 9:19 am

    He went 111-17 when paired with Ruiz….?

    • Ryan Dinger

      April 5, 2013 at 9:23 am

      Great catch. Should read 31-17. I’ve fixed that. Don’t know how I ended up typing 111, but that is obviously incorrect. Sorry about that.

    • Ryan Dinger

      April 5, 2013 at 9:25 am

      41-17* My fingers are not typing well this morning.

  2. Ryne Duren

    April 5, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I seriously think Doc’s problem isn’t with mechanics. Ok yea his arm slot might have been off last year, but if anyone has noticed he looks gassed all the time. Even in cooler temps now. Ever since that game in chicage in 11 where he looked like he was suffering from heat exhaustion he hasn’t been the same pitcher. I think the problem is medical. Do you remember the off seaon before 11 he was in south america and jumped in the water to save that person?
    He could possibly have a parasite from the water that he was fishing in! They say if you’re down there don’t swim in the fresh water for just that reason. This thing if he does have one could be sapping his strength which could effect his velocity, stamina etc. Now i say this cause my brother and his girlfriend were down there a couple of years ago and they were in the fresh water. after about 8 months and extensive testing she was found to have a parasite that was affecting her overall health. In fact she still has it and has been on medication for it and it’s a long process to rid yourself of some of these little buggers. I’m just throwing this out there cause I don’t know if the phils have looked at that. I mean I’m not a doctor or anything but if I had that much riding on a man of his caliber and history I’d have to look into it. Maybe if you Ryan could ask someone on the phils about this during an interview or something it would raise their awareness and they’d have him checked. we sure could use a healthy Halladay.

  3. Frank

    April 5, 2013 at 9:34 am

    It’s an interesting thought, but Doc did have Chooch in Spring Training right? Still struggled, labored.

    • Santos

      April 5, 2013 at 9:40 am

      Agreed. Doc also didn’t have Ruiz for most of his career. When he was an amazing pitcher. I think the absence of Ruiz has a very miniaml effect on the pitchers and is only a convenient excuse that coincides Halladay struggling this year, and doesn’t explain any of his struggles last year when Ruiz was full time.

      • Ryan Dinger

        April 5, 2013 at 9:49 am

        The story was written less to make an excuse for Halladay (I truly believe he won’t ever be the same pitcher he was again) and more to explore how much Ruiz’s absence is hurting Doc in his quest to reinvent himself as a pitcher.

        Also, it bears mentioning that Ruiz only caught one game with the big league club during the Spring and was out most of the second half of last season.

  4. am13

    April 5, 2013 at 9:41 am

    That is an interesting theory. I think we are all trying to come up with every excuse to rationalize what is going on with him. I think Dubee’s remarks yesterday that the root of the problem is that he got into bad habits last year when he was hurt is total crap. This is a pitcher whose whole M.O. was his uncanny ability to repeat his delivery over and over. There is a reason we all refer to him as the machine. Also his workout regimen is legendary. So, now Dubee is saying that playing hurt for 1/2 the season last year has totally ruined something he has done for over 10 years of his career SO well that everyone in baseball marveled at his ability to repeat it over and over? I throw that up there with someone telling me that Mariano Rivera forgot how to throw his cutter. The bottom line is this. There is SOMETHING WRONG with him physically. And he is ANGRY about it. Whether it be old age, an injury, something wrong with his stamina, who knows. The amount of anger he is showing tells me it is probably something that is not fixable and he is trying to adapt to it. It seems like he has been trying since the off season and all of spring training and he is NOT able to do it. I think the article Jason Stark did yesterday with the scout in Atlanta was very telling. The scout said Halladay has the ability to overcome this but he has to stop being so angry about it. It seems like right now, he is being too stubborn to listen to how he needs to adjust his approach. That sassy comment he made to Charlie when he asked him if he was ready on Wednesday, “I was ready Monday but you did not want me” and throwing Kratz under the bus. When have you every heard him like that? He is normally one of the most gracious, soft spoken, classy players you have every seen? I really hope he can get it together because it breaks my heart to see him go out this way after the amazing career he has had.

  5. schmenkman

    April 5, 2013 at 10:04 am

    “Only the results have changed. Over the course of their partnership, Ruiz has saved Doc about a half run per game and added about 150 points to his winning percentage.”

    While I think they have a great rapport and Ruiz has helped him, I don’t think we can draw conclusions about cause-and-effect with this kind of accuracy.

    I typed that before I looked this up:

    Last year in the 17 games started by Chooch, Halladay had a 5.33 ERA
    Last year in the 8 games started by Kratz/etc. Halladay had a 2.95 ERA

  6. Lefty

    April 5, 2013 at 10:21 am

    There is something to be said for a catcher that acts as a calming factor, like Ruiz provides for Halladay. Even in their first year together when everyone was sort of in awe of Doc, Chooch always seemed to have his ear and full attention. I think it starts in the bullpen before the game, and builds from there. I have to agree with Shmenkman, I don’t think it can be quantified accurately.

    But I will say this, if I was Eric Kratz and looked out at Doc’s gaze, I wouldn’t go out to the mound to talk to him for fear he’d bite my head off. I am surprised at Doc’s comments about him though.

    Also, I think Dubee is right about arm slot, I said the same thing the other night. But maybe he’s throwing that way because it’s the only way he can get the velocity up? I don’t know.

  7. Ken Bland

    April 5, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    No surprises for Friday afternoon

    1. Ben Revere (L) CF

    2. Jimmy Rollins (S) SS

    3. Chase Utley (L) 2B

    4. Ryan Howard (L) 1B

    5. Michael Young (R) 3B

    6. Domonic Brown (L) LF

    7. Laynce Nix (L) RF

    8. Erik Kratz (R) C

    9. Kyle Kendrick (R) P

  8. George

    April 5, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    1. Halladay, whether you have noticed or not, HAS changhed his approach; he’s throwing more offspeed stuff.

    2. I think frustration is being confused with anger. I think most everybody vents when they think they’re doing things better but the results don’t show it.

    3. Halladay had pitched a ton of games and even won a Cy Young before he even met Ruiz.

    4. Mechanics can and do change, even if you’ve been a so-called machine. If he’s pitched 30+ games in a row using slightly altered mechanics, it’s going to become a habit that’s hard to break.

    To me, the biggest problem right now is that Halladay is having a hard time adjusting because adjusting is ALWAYS hard, particularly under the pressure to win. Wet mounds and stomach viruses make it even harder. I’m sure not having Ruiz is a hindrance, too, but I also think that’s just a minor factor.

  9. Ken Bland

    April 5, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Wouldn’t have expected this evaluation…

    Royals pitcher Ervin Santana shrugged off Chicago’s three homers the other night..

    “I don’t know,” he said. “The best pitcher in the league gave up three homers on opening day. This is baseball. Anything can happen.”

    Pressed to identify the “best pitcher,” Santana said, “Cole Hamels.” And, yes, the Phillies lefty yielded three homers Monday in a 7-5 loss to Atlanta.

    Read more here:

  10. Ken Bland

    April 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Last night must have been “It’s only 1 game night” for the Pigs as they got clobbered by the ‘Cuse in their AAA opener.

    Tyler Cloyd yielded 6 earned runs in 3 innings. Gave up count ’em 9 hits, 2 homers. That translates to a WHIP of like 3.30.

    Jake and Stutes were an interesting tandem. Jake walked 3 in 1 inning. Gave up a hit also, so not to be outdone by his teammate, Jake checked out with a WHIP of 4.0. Close to Halladay country, early 2013 edition.

    Stutes pitched an inning and gave up a base hit. Struck out 2. Not too bad so far, n’est ce pas? Add 2 walks, and 2 wild pitches to the ledger card.

    Conjures up memories of Mike leading the Jacksons with that 1971 recording of “Maybe Tomorroiw.”

  11. Ken Bland

    April 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Game logs appear to be headed for an in game popup surprise around these parts. Maybe we should have an office pool on what inning it will pop up. I’ll take the third, and my tiebreaker vote is bottom.

    I’m not too sure what to make of this series. The Royals throw 3 straight righties, which I suppose is a plus. They’re hitting thus far is such that they might (very operative word) allow for drastic overreaction of KK or Lannan have a good game. Sunday should be a terrific game in Hamels/Shields. Seems like the most reasonable goal is 2 of 3. Can’t put the finger on it, but a sweep feels too emotionally driven.

  12. Andrew From Waldorf

    April 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Ken you will be happy.

    I am not using Butler today as he is benched.

    So I have both Howard and Michael Young.

    Go phils!

    Youngs first start for me of the year.

    With 2 lefties the next 2 games. Billy Butler will get his hacks.

    Again no Phillies feed for me.

    The Royals are like most midwestern announcers I enjoy.
    They are already carrying on about the park being a bandbox.

    Which it isnt. But its standard for all broadcast teams when they get here.
    Perpetuating the myth.

  13. Ken Bland

    April 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    All I know about their broadcasts are Denny Mathews and Paul Splittorff. Spell check said I spelled Paul’s name wrong. That’s possible, or maybe it just spell checks the living. And they might have worked a game together last some 20 years ago for all I know. No DH took Butler out I guess.


  14. aSIXdriver

    April 6, 2013 at 9:01 am

    Blaming Kratz? DOC has the ball in his hand….Kratz makes a “suggestion” as to what pitch to throw and location. DOC can always shake Kratz off and throw “his” pitch…..excuses are like a******’*, we all got one and they all stink

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