2 – Which version of J.A. Happ is this?
J.A. Happ commanded some headlines after his surprise signing early in free agency, but much like R.A. Dickey, a locked-in member of the starting rotation doesn’t generate much speculation through the coldest months.
After a tale of two halves for Happ in 2015 between the Seattle Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates, the Blue Jays will be hoping to land closer to the latter.
In Seattle, where Happ went as part of the Michael Saunders deal, the lanky lefty was a slightly below-average version of himself. Pitching 108.2 innings to a 4.64 ERA, he was headed to the market as a C-level free agent starter. Then, Ray Searage got his hands on him.
With the Pirates, Happ dominated with a 1.85 ERA while striking out an abnormally high 9.8 batters per nine innings without sacrificing a drop of his control. This is (mostly) what Toronto hopes they’ve purchased.
One stumbling block that remains with Happ is that, even despite making 32 starts in 2015 and hitting a career high for innings pitched, that total is just 172. Ideally, a mid-rotation starter is flirting with 200 innings after 32 starts (nearly one extra inning per start).
If Happ can perform just well enough, though, he could buoy the rotation around him in a hurry and prove to be one of this offseason’s more underrated signings.
Next: Looking for a place to call home