J.A. Happ’s latest struggles create rotation controversy for Blue Jays


May 6, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Marcus Stroman (54) throws a pitch in the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Blue Jays defeated the Phillies, 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It may have been just his second start of the season, but J.A. Happ did not do any favors for himself in terms of making future starts for the Toronto Blue Jays. In fact, he likely made it a much easier choice for manager John Gibbons by eliminating himself as a candidate.

Happ lasted all of 2.1 innings, surrendering 7 hits (2 home runs) and 4 runs while throwing 60 hard hit pitches. That was a performance that earned him a short leash from Gibbons, and a quick shower.  It also wasn’t a performance that Gibbons was looking forward to talking about after the game, as conveyed by Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star.

Dinner plans aside, the combination of the performance and the utter silence of Gibbons doesn’t do much to quell the masses, but rather the opposite, stirring the pot as it were. And we all know how much the masses love a good



starter controversy. Now we have a bonafide one stirring in Toronto and five whole days until we get an resolution.

So let’s get the fun started by examining the candidates, shall we.

The first person the speculation train is going to jump on will be Marcus Stroman, and rightfully so, as Stroman is part of the future of the organization and he’s already forced his way onto the Major League roster. After 2-2 with a 1.69 ERA and a 12.2 K/9 ratio at Triple-A Buffalo, Stroman has been relegated to bullpen duty with the Jays, where he’s surrendered two hits and a run in his first 2.1 innings of work.

However, Stroman’s long-term role with the team is in the rotation, and if Happ’s spot in the rotation is up for grabs, this could be the perfect time to slide him in. Sure, it’ll hurt Happ’s feelings to head back to the bullpen, but Stroman is the guy we want happy, right?

But it might now be that cut and dry. There may be another dark horse candidate that may be ready to jump in as well.

On Saturday, Todd Redmond came in and threw a very solid 4.2 innings of relief, surrendering just 5 hits, but just 1 unearned run. That’s been consistent with what Redmond has been putting up all season, with the right-hander putting up a solid 2.66 ERA  and a 6.46 K/9 ratio over 23.2 innings of work, mostly as the mop-up man. Redmond also showed last season that he was capable of taking the ball as a starter and providing some decent performances, posting a 4.32 ERA and a 8.9 K/9 in 2013.

Sure, Redmond lacks the long-term appeal of Stroman, and he’s not likely to be a consistent arm either, but he’s more than deserving of the opportunity based on the opportunity as well. If the Blue Jays choose to move away from Happ, they could turn to Redmond and allow Stroman to continue to get used to Major League hitters in the bullpen.