PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay has accomplished a lot during his 13 years in the big leagues. He has won a Cy Young Award and 20 games in a season three times and pitched a perfect game.
But there was one thing missing in his career that he craved for: pitching in the postseason. Indeed, he has made the most regular-season starts -- 320 -- of any active pitcher without having appeared in a postseason game.
He will finally get his chance, starting Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Reds on Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET on TBS.
With a roster that has two other aces -- Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels -- Halladay earned the first-game nod by not only being the best pitcher on the club, but in the NL, going 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA.
Halladay, 33, has already envisioned what it would be like to pitch in his first postseason game of his career.
Loves to face: Shane Victorino, 0-for-5. Hates to
face: Raul Ibanez, 3-for-9.
Loves to face: Drew Stubbs, 1-for-6. Hates to face: Ramon
Why he'll win: Had 1.95 ERA in September
Why he'll win: Coming off complete-game two-hitter
Pitcher beware: Young gun who has never been here
Pitcher beware: Prior to last game, had given up three or more runs in
past six starts
Bottom line: Electric arm
Bottom line: Ace of aces
"It's definitely something I've thought about a lot, but you know, I think since we've got ourselves in the playoffs, it's been more of a preparation mode more than anything, and that's great for me," he said.
Manager Charlie Manuel said that Halladay is hungry for a World Series ring, something most of his teammates received two years ago.
"I think he's starving, all right," Manuel said. "He's intense and he wants it. I mean, he wants it. This guy's for real. He loves the game and he wants to be on a winner. He wants a ring. I think he's going to give everything he's got.
"Only thing I can tell you is, how I look at it, I'm going to send him out there and let him pitch, and he's going to do the best he possibly can and we'll go from there."
Halladay is preparing for a Reds team that beat him once and scored four runs in 17 innings against him this season. In his first game against Cincinnati, the Reds collected 13 hits. In the second meeting, they collected just four hits. Which Roy Halladay will the fans see Wednesday?
"I'm going to give up hits at times. That's part of who I am," Halladay said. "I think if I can control that to a certain extent and control the damage of it, I think that is a big factor. So yeah, I'm going to continue to be aggressive, continue to challenge guys, but I'm going to try to do it on my pitches, get quick outs, get outs on quality pitches, and I think that's the biggest the biggest difference."
Before the year began, Halladay wasn't into watching October baseball until last year, when former teammate A.J. Burnett was pitching in the postseason for the first time in his career.
There was also another reason. He knew there was a possibility the Blue Jays would trade him to a contender. During his 12 years in Toronto, Halladay was never in a pennant race, let alone in the postseason.
"I would say I watched it more last year than any of the past years," Halladay said. "But I think you always keep a tab on it. You're always catching up on it. You may not watch every single inning like I probably did last year -- more than any other year."
Halladay's wish to play on a contender finally happened last December, when Toronto traded Halladay to Philadelphia for three Minor Leaguers. Before the deal was completed, Halladay signed a three-year extension, worth $60 million. He had a chance to become a free agent after this season, but bypassed that chance believing he could be in the postseason more than once.
"The contract was never a factor for me," he said. "I think the biggest thing for me was going somewhere that had a chance to compete for a couple of years and being able to do that as soon as possible. I think you never really know how long you're going to play. You hate to suck up a year just to be able to control exactly where you go, when you can already go there before that."
Halladay will finally get that chance Wednesday.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.