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Sun, Apr 14, 2013 - 1:10 PM ET
 

Phillies-Marlins Preview

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Roy Halladay's season is off to a concerning start. In two abysmal outings for the Philadelphia Phillies, the two-time Cy Young winner has shown little resemblance to the dominant pitcher he's been for much of his career. Couple that with a shaky 2012, and some are beginning to wonder if he'll ever regain that form.

Facing the Miami Marlins and one of baseball's worst offenses Sunday at Marlins Park could be just the opportunity to bounce back.

The resume of Halladay - tied for the third-most wins among active pitchers with 199 - is illustrious, but he has struggled in two starts thus far, going 0-2 with a 14.73 ERA for the Phillies (5-6). Halladay is coming off a season in which shoulder issues limited him to 25 starts, and he went 11-8 with a 4.49 ERA - his worst since a 10.64 mark in 2000, his third year with Toronto.

He gave up seven runs on six hits and three walks over four innings in a 7-2 loss to the Mets last Monday, with manager Charlie Manuel attributing Halladay's struggles to a lack of command. He has walked an average of 2.1 or fewer batters per nine innings in each of the last eight seasons, but has walked six already in 7 1-3 innings this year - perhaps an indicator of the right-hander trying to be too fine with his pitches.

"Ninety-five percent is mental," he said. "It's simplifying and getting back to basics and not trying to force things. I feel like at times when you're trying to find something, the more you're grasping for it, the worse it is."

Halladay is 7-4 with a 3.09 ERA in 14 career starts against the Marlins (2-9), winning three of the last four.

But it's unlikely that he's faced many lineups that appear to be inept as Miami's. Chris Coghlan - starting in center field in place of the injured Justin Ruggiano - may have given the struggling offense at least a temporary lift with a walk-off single in the Marlins' 2-1 win Saturday.

"It's huge for the morale," said Coghlan, who has six hits in 17 career at-bats against Halladay (.353). "We've lost a lot of tight games and our record obviously shows that."

The Marlins still managed just five hits in the win and have 22 over their last five contests. They're also without a home run in seven straight with only two all season.

Not helping matters is the loss of slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who missed a second straight game Saturday with a sore left shoulder. According to the team's official website, an MRI Saturday showed a contusion, meaning he likely won't be out for an extended period. Still, he isn't expected to play until Monday's series opener against Washington at the earliest.

Taking the mound for Miami will be Kevin Slowey, who has a tough-luck 0-2 record despite two strong performances. The right-hander has allowed three earned runs and 10 hits over 12 1-3 innings, but the Marlins failed to score in either game.

Slowey was hit hard in his only career outing against Philadelphia, allowing seven runs and seven hits in 1 2-3 innings while with Minnesota on June 19, 2010.

Tagged: Phillies, Marlins, Roy Halladay

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