By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
Since the starting rotation was announced in mid-March, Roy Halladay has had today circled on his calendar.  

A picture of consistency, Hallday has proven to be fallible over the past year.

Has he regained the form that deservingly perched him atop baseball's elite pitchers for the past decade, or have age and injuries finally put a dent in a certain Hall of Fame career?

No one knows, including Halladay himself, and that's what makes his start tonight in Atlanta so intriguing. 

The 35-year-old had a baffling spring, starting six games and finishing with a 6.06 ERA while tying Michael Stutes for the team lead with nine walks.  For perspective, Stutes is opening the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

No, not suggesting Halladay and Stutes are comparable, but "Doc" had trouble throwing his cutter throughout the spring and his velocity was down, both issues that hindered him significantly last season.  

Halladay claims he feels better now than he did last April, but statistics are worth more than words.

"I'm happy with where I'm at," Halladay said Thursday after his final Grapefruit League start. "I'm excited. I'm excited to come out of Spring Training feeling the way I feel, physically and mechanically. There's still a few things I feel I can improve on, but I'm happy with my delivery. 

"Physically, it's night and day, last year compared to this year, which was the goal. Physically, this is almost as good as I've felt in five years, as far as my total body. I'm just a tick behind where I want to be."

If Halladay tosses six strong innings then it's likely the mass panic of Phillies' fans will subside, but anything less may throw gas on an already smoldering flame. 

- Patrick Gordon in the Managing Editor of the Philadelphia Baseball Review.  Follow him on Twitter @Philabaseball or contact him at

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