Blue Jays’ Year in Review: Good, Bad & the Ugly- J.A. Happ


Jays Journal takes a look back at 2017, and the good, bad, and the ugly of each individual performance from the roster, starting with Kevin J.A. Happ.

The Toronto Blue Jays rotation was a major reason for the Jays making the 2016 post-season and reaching the ALCS for the 2nd straight season. The 2016 rotation saw just 7 starters used all year long, which is unheard of. It was a different story in 2017 for the starting staff as injuries caught up to the 2017 pitchers. J.A. Happ was an unfortunate victim to injury early on in the season, but when healthy, Happ was nearly equally as effective as 2016.

The Good

In 2016, J.A. Happ finished with 20 wins and an ERA of 3.18. Wins are a pretty meaningless stat for starters, but 20 wins is nothing to sneeze at. As mentioned above, Happ was nearly equally as effective in 2017 as he was in 2016. Despite the 10-11 record and 3.53 ERA, there were some really good signs from Happ.

J.A. saw a rise in K/9 and LOB%. He also posted a lower FIP and xFIP in 2017 compared to 2016. It was still a solid season for Happ when healthy and those stats mentioned above are a good indicator that he can continue to sustain success yet again going into 2018 which is the final season of his 3-year deal. He was worth 2.9 wins, just shy of 3.0 or better for the 3rd season in a row. If healthy, there’s no reason to think Happ can’t be worth at least 3.0 wins again in 2018.

The Bad

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To be completely honest, there wasn’t a whole lot of bad with Happ in 2017. The casual fan will point to the dip in pitcher wins and rise in losses, but that is meaningless. The only “bad” I saw with Happ was minor rises in BB/9, HR/9, and HR/FB.

In 2016, Happ’s BB/9 was 2.77. In 2017, it was 2.85. The home run ball bit Happ a bit more frequently in 2017 compared to 2016. His HR/9 rose from 1.02 to 1.11 and HR/FB rose from 11.1% to 12.3%.

The only month where Happ struggled was in July. You could argue for April, but I’m not going to count April or May given the injury. In July, Happ’s ERA was an even 5.00 in 27.0 innings. He quickly bounced back from July with ERA’s of 3.53 in August and 1.99 in September. The “bad” section of J.A. Happ involves a bit of nitpicking as nothing stood out as truly bad.

The Ugly

As evidenced by the bad section above, there was nothing ugly about J.A. Happ in 2017. The only thing I would say falls under the ugly section is his injury. Happ was removed from his 3rd start of the season on April 16th, with what was classified as elbow inflammation. Given the rash of injuries, Happ was rushed back without proper rehab and made his return on May 26th. It took until about mid-June for Happ to get back to his normal self.

The ugly for J.A. Happ would be his elbow inflammation injury which really started the train of injuries to hit the Blue Jays starting rotation.

Projecting 2018

I think Blue Jays fans have every reason to be excited for a full season of a productive J.A. Happ for the final year of his contract. There’s no reason to believe Happ will get injured again as he’s been a very reliable starter throughout his entire career healthwise. If Happ is healthy, Blue Jays fans should expect much of the same that he’s given the team the past two seasons in his second stint with the club.

Next: Blue Jays’ Year in Review: Kevin Pillar

If J.A. Happ is healthy, I’d expect him to be worth at least 3.0 wins, if not more. If he posts another good season, it will be interesting to see if the club discusses a potential contract extension, especially if the young arms in the system continue to stall in their growth. Regardless, J.A. Happ will yet again be key to the Blue Jays success in 2018 and you should expect him to do what he’s done the past two seasons.