David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays' Pursuit of HAPPiness

Much of the talk and speculation surrounding the Toronto Blue Jays thus far in Spring Training has been about the 5th spot in the rotation. Will Drew Hutchison or Kyle Drabek come back from Tommy John surgery to claim the spot? Will Esmil Rogers or Todd Redmond earn their way into the spot? Can Dustin McGowan be stretched out to be a starter? Can anyone fix Ricky Romero? Will Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez be rushed to the big leagues to take the spot?

But, after today, there might be a bit more talk about the 4th spot in the Blue Jays pitching rotation. It has been all but a given that J.A. Happ would be given the ball behind R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow. However, after what HAPPened today, the picture is not so clear.

Happ’s first start of the spring came on February 26. He pitched 1 inning and gave up 4 hits, 1 walk and 2 earned runs, striking out 3. This isn’t a stellar start to the spring, but leaves room to grow. It can be chalked up to “It’s early” and can be shrugged off with a “Meh, stuff HAPPens”.

But, then today all HAPP broke loose. His pitching line is as follows: 0.1 innings pitched, 2 hits, 4 walks, 4 earned runs. Understanding that it is still “early” is harder to do with this performance. It would be very easy to brush it off if it were a session where he was working on some things, trying to fine tune his approach, etc. Fans can buy that…sort of. We often hear stories of players going into a spring training start with the goal of only working on one pitch, etc. If that is the case, it would appear that Happ needs to keep working.

Happ’s performance prompted many Jays fans to groan and grumble including the following tweet by Ian hunter @BlueJayHunter:

My reply to this tweet was simple. In order for Happ to give up that many home runs, he’d have to throw strikes. Today, with 4 BB in a third of an inning, Happ was not even close to grooving the ball. So, at least the home runs are not an issue…

But, seriously…

The problem is that his spot in the rotation may not be as secure as we once thought it to be. When a team doesn’t have many options or competition for a rotation spot, a guy can feel comfortable. But, as we’ve been told this year, the Blue Jays have lots of competition for the 5th spot. With the HAPPlessness that took place on the mound today, perhaps there is another spot to compete for.

The competition, you ask? Well, in the same game, McGowan contributed 1.0 innings, 3 walks, 2 hits, 2 strikeouts and 3 earned runs. Drabek went 1.1 innings and gave up 2 walks, 3 hits and 4 earned runs.

Being that it truly IS early, J.A. will be given more opportunities and a longer leash to continue his Pursuit of HAPPiness.

*Special acknolwedgement to the Staff Writers at Jays Journal for their contributions to the J.A. Happ puns.

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Tags: J.A. Happ Toronto Blue Jays

  • Adam Sproule

    Could we use Happ a few more times. Once or twice I get it but seriously I’m unHAPPy with the overuse.

    • http://www.jaysjournal.com Shaun Doyle

      Haha. Sorry, just couldn’t HAPP myself. I tip my HAPP to you, sir.

  • Withershin

    Uggh… sign that other dude (what’s-his-face-who-cares) already. Throw money at it. I promise not to pre-drink before games and buy more stadium beer to make up the difference. I might even pay for that 100-level seat instead of sneaking down into them this season.

    • http://www.jaysjournal.com Shaun Doyle

      If it continues this way, you’re going to need a lot of that stadium beer. Bottoms up!

  • Jason Kerr

    I’m not gonna count Happy out yet … It just HAPPened to be a terrible day for him … I’ll jump bandwagon after his next start though lol.

    • Andrew van Laar

      What about last game? And last season? And the two seasons before that? The guy is just a terrible pitcher lets be honest.

      • http://www.jaysjournal.com Shaun Doyle

        Yeah, HAPP is always like the Katy Perry chorus: up and down, hot and cold, in and out. The problem for me is that it does balance out, but balancing out to what? A sub .500 pitcher.

  • Kevin

    Signing Ervin Santana would make me a lot more comfortable going into this year……. I really think he’s worth it this year.

  • SM

    Its just incredible how this site (and others) have been HUGE on the “pitching depth” this entire season and now realize that Happ is an ENORMOUS mistake. The fact that he’s the FOURTH (yes 4th, not 5th) makes it that much special! If Happ cant get AAA players out then how can he ever get MLB players packing?! Yea AA, “we don’t need start pitching anymore” – yes. let’s go with Stroman and Redmond/Rogers as the starters behind Happ.

    Happ = if you’re ever gonna read this, these are honest words: “Please, don’t just do Toronto a favour, do Canada one, retire from the sport”

    • Justin Jay

      I’m with you on this. The depth is there… but it doesn’t make it GOOD depth. I know it’s Spring Training, but these guys have something to prove and need to treat it as such. Established players should be working on improvements to the little things.

      Happ needs to be using his entire arsenal and trying to throw them for strikes. He threw a lot of FBs for balls and if that’s his best pitch, then it means his other pitches aren’t going to see a lot of work. He was very, uh… Romero-like yesterday. He was behind to EVERY hitter.

      • http://www.jaysjournal.com Shaun Doyle

        That’s one thing that has always worried me about him. He throws A LOT of pitches but doesn’t go deep into a game.

  • David Stewart

    Is everybody Happy?

  • Jack Stevenson

    Are the coaches actually meddling with Happ’s mechanics ? Did this work with Romero and Drabek ? Maybe this latest outing was him trying to change his ” arm slot ” I think that age 31 is not the time to change a pitchers mechanics. Happ needs to use what he has found success with ie working the zone up & down and using location better, maybe the weighted ball program but NOT trying change his delivery.

  • Jason Kerr

    You can say sign Santana all you want, but you’re not getting a better pitcher in him, other than an innings eater and who knows Happ could be the same way eat innings and not win … It’s hard to say at this point. Santana doesn’t hold a winning record his last 3 seasons and neither does Happ. Waste a whole bunch of money on the devil you know or the devil you don’t?