On a hot Wednesday afternoon, J.A. Happ took to the mound in what could possibly his final start as a Blue Jay. Facing a powerful Atlanta Braves team, Happ did not disappoint.
As the sun beat down on forty-five thousand fans at Rogers Centre, powerful lefty J.A. Happ took to the mound and tossed a gem against the visiting Atlanta Braves, allowing four earned runs in 8.1 innings, striking out eight and surrendering just six hits. While impressive, the box score does not do Happ justice.
Although they were his runners, Happ did not allow the third and fourth Atlanta runs to score – those scored when Ryan Tepera came on to relieve Happ (and eventually pick up the save). Additionally, Happ allowed just three hits through six innings. Despite two of those three being solo home runs (hit by Kurt Suzuki and Peter Bourjos), he dominated during the middle innings. His fastball was electric and his command was outstanding, as evidenced by the fact that he did not walk a batter. With this, his record improves to 9-3.
With this outing, Happ’s ERA stands at 3.56, 16th among starting pitchers in the American League. With eight punchouts on the day, he raised his season total to 102, 10th in the AL. Most of all, Happ gave the Jays length, allowing their bullpen to rest a little following a blowout loss on Tuesday.
As trade rumors begin to surface, this strong start came at the perfect time for Happ. If Ross Atkins isn’t getting calls after this one, something sure is wrong. Adding on to that, if Atkins isn’t strongly considering shopping Happ at this point in time, something is also surely wrong.
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Regardless of whether or not this start actually proves to be a factor in a possible Happ trade, it’s good to know that at least one member of this starting rotation is succeeding. Of all the elements of this team’s game so far, the starting five (Happ excluded), has easily been the most disappointing, pitching to a combined 4.97 ERA (25th in baseball), with opposing batters hitting .259 against them in only 387.2 innings.
The fans at the game surely realized this, giving Happ a generous standing ovation when he walked off the field and sheepishly hoped over the foul line en route to the Blue Jays dugout. The Blue Jays bench also gave him a warm reception, with Marcus Stroman standing at the top step waiting to congratulate his fellow starter.
In a rather underwhelming last few weeks, this excellent outing by Happ has been a glimmer of victory. While it’s great to see that he helped the team pick up a W in front of a big crowd, it’s even sweeter considering the fact that his name is being thrown around in big-time trade rumours. All in all, this could possibly be Happ’s last start in a Blue Jay uniform. If Jon Morosi’s report is true, then the Yankees and Mariners are surely re-engaging Ross Atkins and company in trade talks. If not, then the Blue Jays still get to cherish a fantastic season from their big lefty.