The #5 man in the Toronto Blue Jays’ starting rotation never looks comfortable on the mound. He seems to labour through every pitch and when he gets hit by the opposition, he gets hit hard.
For whatever reason, he doesn’t have R.A. Dickey‘s ability to limit the damage at the point where the game is just out of the Jays’ reach, and where Mark Buehrle always seems to get himself out of trouble with minimal damage, Happ has no such luck.
It’s generally understand Happ would be demoted to the bullpen if the team added another arm, but this misses one critical development: Happ’s actually been one of the team’s better pitchers since June. He’s still not perfect, but he delivered big wins over the Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox. Now you can add the Boston Red Sox to the list.
Happ pitched seven strong, scoreless innings yesterday, limiting the Red Sox to four hits. He allowed one walk while tossing seven batters out.
In the larger scheme of things, he also helped to keep the Jays’ floundering playoff hopes alive.
Think about it: if it wasn’t for Marcus Stroman and Happ, would the Jays still be part of the playoff conversation today? It was Stroman who helped the Jays avenge a 5-1 loss to the Texas Rangers earlier this week by beating them 4-1 the next day, and Happ helped the Jays avenge a 14-1 massacre at the Red Sox’s hands on Monday by beating them 7-3 yesterday. These are the two guys who’re putting up zeros when the Jays really need people to step up, delivering “response” performances that have been lacking from the rest of the team.
On its own, yesterday’s start doesn’t mean a lot for Happ or his place on the Jays, but if you add it to his other starts since June, you’ll start to gain a new appreciation of him. He’s been able to produce results (whether you classify them as pretty or ugly is another matter) while the Jays’ main arms have struggled.
If I told you in early April that Stroman and Happ would be the team’s “stoppers” come July, would’ve believed me?
I’m sure you believe me now.