There is a very interesting situation unfolding with respect to the Toronto Blue Jays starting pitching. The situation comes in the form of a 6’5” Lefty by the name of J.A. Happ.
In case you have forgot about him, or maybe you have given up on him, he is currently on a rehab assignment that has seen him make two minor league starts. His first start in Dunedin saw him allow two runs in five innings while striking out five in a win over Clearwater. In his second start, this time for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, he allowed one run over 4.2 innings throwing 90 pitches (63 for strikes).
After the game the Buffalo Bisons tweeted:
— Buffalo Bisons (@BuffaloBisons) April 11, 2014
According to John Lott of the Globe and Mail, J.A. Happ will make one more rehab start with the Buffalo Bisons, which is good news for Blue Jays management since they already have five starters. Happ was expected to compete for one of the final two spots in the rotation until back issues derailed his chances this spring and landed him on the disabled list. This held the door wide open for Dustin McGowan and Drew Hutchison to claim the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation.
Thus far, the results from McGowan and Hutchison have been mixed. Both starters have had one good start and one bad start. If McGowan was unimpressive against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday and replicated his first start against the NY Yankees, than it would have made this situation much simpler. Move McGowan into the bullpen, send Neil Wagner back to Buffalo, and slot J.A. Happ into McGowan’s spot in the rotation. Unfortunately for J.A. Happ and management, Dustin McGowan turned in a impressive start on Friday night. He held the O’s offence to zero runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings, while walking one and striking out two batters.
Hutchison looked dominate against the Tampa Bay Rays in his first start, earning the Blue Jays their first win of the season. In his second, against the Yankees, Hutch was unable to keep his pitches down and the veteran hitter of the Yankees made him pay as he took his first loss of the season. Hutch hasn’t looked over matched or intimidated in either start this year and will need a few more starts to accurately gauge what we can expect from him in 2014.
But where does J.A. Happ fit into this picture? Is he a long reliever or a 5th starter? Is he a able to stay healthy? Can he consistently work into and past the 6th or 7th innings?
These are the questions that surround J.A. Happ. For his career, Happ is a .500 pitcher (40-42) who throws a lot of pitches and can’t make past the 5th inning. Even his impressive rehab start on Thursday promoted John Lott to tweet:
Happ piles up the pitches in Buffalo, Dunedin offence erupts, B.C. boy Atkinson shines for Lansing. #BlueJays farm report upcoming …
— John Lott (@LottOnBaseball) April 11, 2014
If the Blue Jays decide to keep rolling with Hutchison and McGowan in their rotation and wish to keep Happ in Buffalo as their 6th starter, Happ will have to be placed on optional waivers. Happ still has options, but he is three years past his Major League debut. It wouldn’t be a terrible situation if Happ’s $5.2 million contract were to be claimed. There are more viable pitching options in the minors this year than there have been the past two injury riddled seasons. If Happ were to be claimed, then Toronto could still pull him off waivers so as not to lose him.
So Jays fans tell me what you think should happ-en with Happ in the comment section.