The presumption among rival talent evaluators before the start of the season was that Roy Halladay had the talent to take advantage of the weaker National League lineups that he would face as a member of the Phillies -- but also that he had the intelligence. And that is exactly what has happened.
"What you see is that he is challenging hitters a lot more with his fastball," said one talent evaluator who has seen two of Halladay's recent starts. "He's not messing around. He's got a cutter and a slider-curve thing he throws, but really, he is just using his fastball more.
"I think his attitude is to be aggressive and challenge hitters, because he knows that even if he gives up a hit, the lineups he is facing now are forgiving. If he gives up a leadoff double to the No. 6 guy in the lineup, then he knows he can use the No. 8 and No. 9 spots to dig himself out of the rally. This has freed him up to attack hitters with his fastball."
He has four starts for the Phillies so far, a relatively small sample, but he has needed only 12.5 pitches per inning, which is significantly lower than his mark of 14.2 pitches per inning in 2009.
Some other numbers of dominance:
His strikeout-to-walk ratio is an incredible 9.33.
Opponents' OPS against him is .524, which is not something you see from starting pitchers -- short relievers, yes, but not starters.
He has allowed just one homer.
Opponents are 2-for-23 with runners in scoring position.
"He'll get 20 wins," said another evaluator. "On that team, with that [Phillies] lineup hitting for him, I think the question is whether he'll get 25."
Which would be remarkable stuff, given that no pitcher has reached 25 wins since Bob Welch in 1990.
Padres off to a fast start
You can't stop the Padres; you can only hope to contain them: That's seven consecutive victories for San Diego, after the Padres blasted the Reds on Friday night behind a strong effort from Kevin Correia. Matt Stairs started and had a nice game in left field.
Some numbers on the Padres' start:
Walk (off) this way
Andruw Jones had a unique way of celebrating his birthday, Kenton Wong of ESPN Stats & Information writes. The guys who hit two homers on their birthday, with one being a walk-off:
Andruw Jones, Chicago White Sox, Friday
Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers, July 27, 2002
Jim Beauchamp, New York Mets, Aug. 21, 1972
Moves, deals and decisions
2. Jerry Manuel moved Jose Reyes into the 3-hole, and the Mets won. It is the right thing to do, because of the depth it creates in Manuel's lineup. Ike Davis mashed his first career home run, Andy Martino writes.
5. Brennan Boesch scrambled to get to the big leagues, Lynn Henning writes.
6. The Jays' prospect from Cuba is going to start out as a DH, writes Morgan Campbell.
7. Brandon Wood was given a night off. It would figure that he doesn't have a lot of chances left, given his performance in the big leagues over the past four seasons: This year, he's 4-for-46, with four singles and 15 strikeouts.
Dings and dents
Against his changeup, hitters went 0-for-9 with five strikeouts, missed 53 percent of swings and chased 60 percent out of the strike zone. Lincecum's changeup has been nearly unhittable the past three starts: