He faced just three batters in the shortest start of his career in Monday night's 4-0 loss to the Marlins at Marlins Park, sweating profusely, struggling to find the strike zone and never throwing harder than 83 mph in the process. He barely resembled the former Cy Young Award winner who once threw a perfect game and postseason no-hitter for the Phillies.
"I don't feel like I'm going to hurt myself, but I don't believe I'm going to get better as the game goes on," Halladay told pitching coach Rich Dubee on the mound.
Halladay said he is dealing with "arm fatigue" following right shoulder surgery in May, but he also revealed that he has been battling a recently diagnosed illness related to his diet, which runs in his family.
He said it is under control.
"I thought there was something serious going on," he said.
Halladay had been scheduled to make his final start of the season Saturday against the Braves at Turner Field, but he said that will not happen. He called Dodgers physician Neal ElAttrache after he left the game. ElAttrache performed the surgery in May.
"You just need rest," he told Halladay. "You need three weeks or more of rest."
Halladay said that he only rested a few days following the surgery in an effort to come back and fulfill his contract.
"He was surprised that I lasted this long and that I didn't get tired sooner," he said of ElAttrache. "Getting that rest is important. He said after that, it's going to be a normal winter for me as far as getting ready. He said there wouldn't be anything different. … I would have thought there would have been some pain involved. He said that it's something most guys go through if they do come back and pitch. I think, had I not been so determined to come back and try to pitch and fulfill my contract, I might not [have] pitched this year and rehabbed and rested and came back full next year. But I really felt an obligation to the organization. I really wanted to prove to myself that I could do it."
Halladay said he had no regrets.
"No," he said. "Because talking to [ElAttrache], it's only going to put me further ahead for next year. Had I had any pain along the process, I would have stopped it immediately and made sure that was taken care of. But I never had pain. The only setbacks I had was just the life [on the ball]. I had a lot of peaks and valleys. That's apparently part of the process of coming back."
Halladay is a free agent after the season, and it is far from certain he will be back. He turns 37 in May and he has a 5.15 ERA over the past two seasons as he has battled shoulder problems.
If Monday was it, it would be a sad way to see him go.
Halladay walked Donovan Solano on four pitches, got Ed Lucas to pop out in a seven-pitch at-bat and walked Christian Yelich on five pitches. At that point, Dubee visited the mound. Manager Ryne Sandberg and assistant athletic trainer Shawn Fcasni soon followed. Following a conversation, Halladay left the field.
"After the first hitter, Dubee went to the stairs," Sandberg said. "He was on close watch. We were all on close watch right away, to the first hitter. We didn't know what those pitches were. Changeups? We didn't know."
Halladay threw just 16 pitches, only five for strikes.
The Phillies have said repeatedly that few pitchers, if any, would have returned so quickly from right shoulder surgery. That is why the Phillies and Halladay have said they expect improved results next season, when he has had an offseason to rest and fully prepare for Spring Training.
"If we can come to some agreement, I'd love to bring him back," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said before the game. "We'll see what happens."
It would seem to make sense for the Phillies, but only with a one-year, incentive-heavy contract.
"There is risk to him, but I think he'll be better," Amaro said. "With the proper amount of rest this offseason … It's hard to crystal ball it and figure out what kind of pitcher he'll be, but I think he's going to be better than what he is [presently]. This could be all he is, but I think he's going to be better."
If this is all Halladay can be, it is not a fitting ending.
"I don't know what the future is going to hold, but I want to go somewhere that wants me and somewhere that is going to have a shot," Halladay said. "Like I've always told you guys, I hope that's here. Worst case scenario, I start throwing and things aren't happening the way they're supposed to. Then I'm going to be honest with whoever's interested and make a decision from there.
"If things go the way that I've been told they're going to go and the way I expect them to go, I'm going to be competitive next year. I've never given up the hope I could pitch here again. But obviously that's a mutual decision. Fortunately, for a while I get a workout in Clearwater, so they'll get to see me more than anybody."