Year in Review: J.A. Happ

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, January 08, 2010 04:00 PM | Comments: 64
2009 Year in Review, Posts

http://www.totalprosports.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/ja-happ.jpgJames Anthony Happ is a quiet, unassuming 27-year old budding star. Don’t mistake that tranquil demeanor for weakness; the dude is an absolute force when he is on.

Happ was relentless throughout the entire 2009 season, going 12-4 with 2.93 ERA in 166 innings, while finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting in the National League behind Florida’s Chris Coughlan. It didn’t start off as a ROY-type season for Happ out of the gate as he was passed over for Chan Ho Park for the final rotation spot.  Didn’t matter to him that he was placed in the bullpen, where, he too, excelled.  The lanky left-hander patiently waited his turn and in turn was finally given a chance to start on May 23 in the Bronx.  Chan Ho Park had used up all of his starting chips and Happ shined against the Yankees, never looking back.

His six-inning, two run performance was indicative of just how tough Happ would be for the remainder of the ’09 season. On June 27, the baseball community finally took notice as Happ tortured the Blue Jays in Toronto, tossing a complete game shutout, while fanning four batters. Consider it the defining moment for J.A.; it was his fifth consecutive victory, a streak that would stretch two more wins and nearly one more month.

Happ followed that up on a warm, August day against Colorado with yet another heart-stopping performance.  It would be his second CG-SO of the season, but this time, he struck out 10 batters over 127 pitches. However, on the same day in the minor leagues, Pedro Martinez was readying for his seat at the starters table.  Pedro one-upped Happ by striking out 11 batters in a start for Double-A Reading.

Luckily for Happ, he did not lose his starting spot outright until the playoffs due to Pedro’s September injury. Still, he was used as a reliever in the playoffs, where he pitched to mixed results.  Happ allowed four earned runs over 6 1/3 innings (seven appearances) and never really settled into a groove as he had as a relief pitcher early in the year.

Aside from his average showing in the postseason, from start to finish, Happ proved to the organization and the people following it, that he has the necessary tools to be a very good major league starter.  The Phillies brass pushed that point when they declined to trade Happ in a deadline deal for the uber-coveted Roy Halladay.  Instead, Happ stayed put, the Phillies brought in Cliff Lee, and the team once again rallied to the Fall Classic.  If not for Happ and his impressive emergence as a solid middle of the rotation pitcher, the Phillies may not have secured back-t0-back NL Pennants.

J.A. Happ was that good.

2009 numbers: 12-4, 2.93 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 119 K, 56 BB, 166 IP, 149 H, .244 BAA

GRADE: 8.4/10:  Happ was outstanding, but not so much in the playoffs. Perhaps it was the back and forth between the pen and the rotation that caused a slow down in the postseason.  Nevertheless, Happ will now be counted on for even bigger things in the future.

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About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1714 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

  • Posts: 0 Sgt. Schmidt

    Halladay, Hamels, and Happ…They should have a giveaway this season, and put their 3 heads on a dragons body on a poster, and be called ”Triple H” or ”The 3-headed Dragon. The National Leauge is already pissing in their jock straps.

  • Posts: 0 MP

    A lot of the Happ skeptics forget, he was good every time called on in 2008. I don’t think he’s a question mark going into next year because he was consistent all year, basically building on his few apperances in 2008. I think we all saw how well he performed under pressure with his name being involved in every trade rumor all summer, and his second shutout at home was literally when they were making the decision on whether he’d be sent back to the pen.

    I think one of the major mistakes in the postseason was underutilizing Happ. Aside from Game 3 in the NLDS, he and Blanton had no idea when or where he was pitching. I would have started him over Pedro in a few of the games. I expect he’ll be a 15-17 game winner next year. He’s proven his consistency. The difference between him and Hamels is even when he gets in a bind, he doesn’t give the other team anything, he shakes it off, and finds a waty out. I am WAY more concerned about Hamels than Happ. Hamels is thr x factor. I have hope he learned from this year, and will turn it around, but Hamels is the biggest question mark on terms of expectations for 2010.

  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    The Spring is a fun time, hell so is now if you can keep warm.
    Schwalmy, Bedard is a perennial IR. He has been in the majors for 7 seasons and has started 30 or more games 1 time. He has never pitched 200 plus innings in a single season. Good stuff, lots of potential but hurt, hurt, hurt… and looking for big money.

    BTW – the starting rotation for the M’s now includes:

    King Felix

    Not a bad starting 3 if Bedard can stay healthy.

    Pat, I don’t suppose in reality a score of 10 would be perfection (like a 20-0 season?) more like a 20 win season with an ERA of 3 or under – keeping it real here. Based on what Happ did in his shortened season, I would think he was deserving of a 9 or better – sorry for the nitpicking but that is how this sight gets its gravy. The score of 8.4 is really damn good but, does that mean a record of say 16-12 with an ERA of 3.30 would rate the same? I think Happ did better than that. Just for fun (that is what this is), project 32 starts for Happ and based on his consistency and the record he had with 23 starts and 12 wins, his record could have come out to 16-5.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    I would imagine that we are not talking to Erik Bedard because we don’t “have” the money to sign him. Even if we did, he is a bit of a weirdo and he gets hurt. Are we talking to Sheets? Good! I gotta say that I don’t believe in “periphials” or “peripherals” and “pitch values”. Lets just say that Happ’s curve is not so hot. Happ has been up here for a season and a half and been nothing but good, so lets give him the benefit until proven wrong. Did Bedard resign? I would love to see the Phils sign Sheets at 1y/3m with incentives.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I would think that Seattle does what they can to resign Bedard…..with him, Cliff and King Felix they would be the early favorites in the AL West.

  • Posts: 0 bfo_33

    I’m not really sure whether Happ has a hard curve or a soft slider. I was never a pitcher, so to be honest, I really don’t know the difference. Are they a different grip, or basically the same with a different arm speed? Either way, it seems like he has some difficulty throwing it for strikes, and doesn’t have a lot of confidence in it.

  • Posts: 0 shag beta sigma delta

    I am personally not worried at all about the rotation. Baring injury I feel that Cole will be back to ’08 form and with the run support this team can give easily win 15-18 games. Last year was a wake up call for him that he has to work at his craft and not take winning for granted. He is still young and learning. I think Jamie Moyer will help him a lot along with having Doc on board. I really do not get the Happ critics, they have the right to their opinion but I just do not see it. Being able to pitch better with runners on base is huge and he has proven he can do that. Like every year the Pen is the crap shot. There really is not many consistent relievers in the game today. I have said it before I think you give guys like Bastardo, Escolona(sp) and some of the other young guys a shot at it in April and May and if they do not pan out then look for something to trade for.
    I also see Lidge coming back strong if healthy. It seems to me he is an every other year guy.

  • Posts: 0 John K

    I really hope the front office doesn’t think the same way. Happ’s luck this year was completely unsustainable. Trust your eyes – he’s not really that good. Serviceable at the back end of the rotation, but to get to be a solid middle of the rotation guy he will definitely need to pull some things together.

    There’s nothing I would have loved to see more than the Phillies use him in the Halladay deal to protect a Taylor or even D’Arnaud + Donald

  • Posts: 0 shag beta sigma delta

    John K can you pass me some of what you are smoking please. What would you do to fill the void in the 4 spot if you got rid of Happ in that deal. I watch him pitch all last year and the spot starts in “08. What is not sustainable, not getting flustered with men on base, working out of jams or dominating lesser offensive teams. I mean really not that good? He is going to be #3 or #4 starter depending on where you but Big Joe in the rotation. And he is going to win 12-16 games on the low end for this team. What his under 2 ERA not sustainable, ok I’ll take 3.3 ERA as my 3rd or 4th starter. What have you seen to make you think he can not pitch at this level. Do you really think this kid is going to stop working to become better? Don’t you think he is going to work harder to keep his spot in the rotation and not get sent to the bull pen in the playoffs. What about this kids makeup do you not see being a better than average pitcher in the big leagues

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    “Happ’s luck this year was completely unsustainable” “He’s really not that good.”

    John K…

    Where are you going with your argument? What makes you think he’s not that good? I would say that he’s MORE than “serviceable”. Obviously, the Blue Jays thought so as well, or else they wouldn’t have been so demanding of him this past July at the deadline.

    I’m glad Ruben held tough at that time and kept him. What they wanted for Halladay in July was obscene…..and that’s why that deal didn’t happen then.

  • Posts: 0 shag beta sigma delta

    Yea I really do not see where all the Happ detractors come from, most of the people on here where head over heals about him when he was pitching last year. I guess in typical Philly fashion, you have to bitch about something

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Our # 4 starter would have been Joe Blanton because Lee would have been bumped him down a slot. I think people aren’t really turned on by Happ because he’s not a “stuff” pitcher. He’s the kinda guy you watch pitch and ask yourself how he can get anybody out but he keeps doing it.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    The Phillies butchered the Happ situation since day one… I don’t know if they didn’t believe he was as good as he had pitched or if they felt like he would eventually pitch his way into the pen but they never put him in a position where he could succeed. It seemed like every time they threw him out there, it was in a bad spot and Happ was successul… he was that good… despite egregious mismanagement by the coaching staff and front office.

  • Posts: 0 Sgt. Schmidt

    Dipsy- I have 10 words for you…You have no clue what the hell your talking about.

    ”He’s the kinda guy you watch pitch and ask yourself how he can get anybody out but he keeps doing it”

    Come on seriously, Do people really take you serious on here? I guess critics are scratching their heads wondering how in the world he had an ERA under 3.00 too huh?

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