PHILADELPHIA -- Roy Halladay walked five and hit two more in Wednesday's start against the Nationals.
They were the most free passes he had allowed in any game in his career.
But then he wiggled out of trouble, allowing just three hits and one run in six innings.
"He's healthy," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "He still struggles. Again, different arm slot. Trying to get into a different arm slot plays into it. We had a good talk the other night. He comes out a little tentative, not certain that he can get his arm in the right position. I think the more he gets on the mound, the better that will be.
"He comes out and we talk. Harvey Dorfman also talked about boxers and when they come out, how some guys will try to feel their way out. The guy that tries to feel his way out, usually gets in trouble. The guy that comes out as the aggressor usually takes charge of the fight. And that's the way Doc has been. He's always been the aggressor. He's always been an aggressive pitcher. It's mound time. That's confidence time. That's being sure that he can get in the same slot and command the stuff the way he wants to.
"I'm very encouraged," Dubee added. "I said the other day, give me three names you think would be pitching now if they had surgery in May. Give me three names of pitchers in the big leagues that would probably be pitching right now. It'd be hard to come up with three."
Sent to 'pen, Martin encouraged by Doc
PHILADELPHIA -- If Phillies pitcher Ethan Martin's confidence has been rattled following seven rough starts in the big leagues, Roy Halladay offered some perspective this week.
He handed Martin one of his baseball cards, which showed his 10.64 ERA in 2000 with the Blue Jays. It is the highest ERA for any pitcher in baseball history with 50 or more innings in a single season.
"He wrote a little note on his card to Ethan, to remind this kid, that, you might be taking your lumps now, but there's a lot of good that's going to come down the road in the future if you continue to learn, continue to have the heart to go out there," said Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee, who announced Friday that Martin will finish the season in the bullpen. "Ethan definitely has the heart and the mound presence."
Right-hander Tyler Cloyd will assume Martin's spot in the rotation the remainder of the year.
"It doesn't really click in until Halladay came over and said, 'Hey, do you know holds the record for highest ERA with over 50 innings pitched in the big leagues in a year?' I said, 'No', and he said, 'Well, I did,'" Martin said. "Then he came and handed me the card with a 10-point-something ERA and had it highlighted. When you look at that … I'm still upset with how I've done, but it makes you say, 'OK, there's still a chance I can still be that starter or whatever I have to do.' I'm just taking that in, and once I'm down there [in the bullpen], I'll come in for an inning or whatever they want me to do and give it all I have.
"I was really stunned. Dubee told me to go look at [Greg] Maddux and [Tom] Glavine, and it was the same kind of situation. It's crazy to think back and see what they did throughout their careers, and where Roy is now, and they had rough starts. I guess I learn from these last seven starts and just build off of it."
Martin went 2-4 with a 6.90 ERA in seven starts. It has been speculated Martin might end up in the bullpen because he has a big arm that could serve the Phillies well in the late innings.
Martin has been successful the first time through the lineup, but the longer he has pitched, the less effective he has been. Opponents have hit just .200 (11-for-55) the first time they see him. He has walked just six, but struck out 23. But after the first time through the lineup, opponents have hit .324 (22-for-68) with 15 walks and 11 strikeouts.
"I think he's a gem," Dubee said. "I think he really is going to be a gem in this league. Right now he's got a lot of innings. We're just trying to protect him from the workload and also see what he looks like in the bullpen.
"I'm not afraid to put him in the eighth inning right now. Again, this is all trial and error. It will be interesting to see how he handles it. His stuff has played phenomenally well the first time through a lineup. I don't know if it's because of fatigue. I don't know if it's because he burns up too much energy, but his stuff shortens up the second and third time through. He will play some big role on a pitching staff. It will be a nice little change to take a different look at him."
Diekman making strong case for 'pen role in '14
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies left-hander Jake Diekman has been on a nice roll, making himself a front-runner for a bullpen job next season.
He is 1-1 with a 0.82 ERA in 11 appearances since Aug. 10. He has allowed five hits, one earned run, two walks and struck out 16 in 11 innings. Opponents have hit just .143 against him. And he has been equally as successful against left-handers (3-for-18 with one walk and 10 strikeouts) as vs. right-handers (2-for-17) with one walk and six strikeouts) in that span.
"Confidence," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "You have to play this game confidently and committed to what you're doing. I think he watched some Chris Sale tape of where to get his hands in his delivery. Try to get that done last year, didn't get it done, got it done this year.
"He's in a spot with his delivery this year where he's very comfortable. It feels repeatable, it feels effortless, and again, the confidence allows you to do that. It allows him to play the game stress-free. And that's important."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.