- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"What?! That's why you're so stupid! You're in Dunedin with a 10 ERA, and you're telling me you're good? No! You're not good!"
"O.K., now we're going to start."
Queen had a technical term for this kind of belittlement: vigorous leveling. It was a technique he had borrowed from Bobby Mattick, a legendary Blue Jays instructor.
Queen brought Halladay to the bullpen for a throwing session, except he began so rudimentarily that he refused to let Halladay use a baseball. Queen lowered Halladay's release point and speeded up his delivery, all without a ball in the pitcher's hand.
Halladay threw phantom pitches for 20 minutes. The next day they did the same thing. At the end of that session Queen let him actually throw a ball. The coach showed him two grips for a fastball: one that caused the ball to run away from a righthanded hitter and another that sent it away from a lefthander. "Aim for the middle of the plate," Queen said.
What happened was amazing. The improvement was immediate.
"It was one day," Halladay says. "The first day it was good. And the next couple of days it just got more comfortable and more consistent. It just made it so much easier to move the ball."
In 2001 Halladay pitched five times for Tennessee and twice for Triple A Syracuse with dominating results before the Blue Jays brought him back to the big leagues. He went 5--3 with a 3.16 ERA. He was a completely different pitcher, with superlative sink, late movement and command.