The Toronto Blue Jays were the #1 team in Runs Scored…and then the (pitching) wheels fell off. Actually, broke off might be slightly more appropriate. In July the Blue Jays were forced to deal with significant injuries to Morrow, Drabek, Hutchison, Frasor, Perez; compounded with the season-ending early injuries to Santos and McGowan. I believe that the introduction and performance of J.A. Happ is a big part of the silver lining that Blue Jays fans will have to sift through in order to step back from the ledge.
J.A. Happ was brought into the Blue Jays organization earlier this season from Houston as part of a stopgap program of pitching help that GM Anthopoulos attempted. The Blue Jays pitching rotation was decimated by injuries around the midpoint of the 2012 season, and Happ was the type of available player that could help keep the team afloat. However, bad news became grave news. The injuries that piled up have been devastating and yet the addition of southpaw Happ should be good news.
J.A. Happ was an intriguing young pitcher who found brilliant early success with the Philadelphia Phillies. Happ was rumoured to be a part of Roy Halladay trade talks – and as history has proven, AA always gets his man. Happ has faltered in recent years, giving up far too many HRs and not displaying the crisp fastball command that attracted so many suitors in 2009. Happ saw his numbers post-2009 begin to climb in the wrong direction: higher H/9 doubled his ER/9, almost doubled his BB/9, and as his manager in Houston pointed out his “arm” just didn’t work like it should.
The mysterious aura surrounding the J.A. Happ fastball up in the zone continues to perplex hitters. Watching Happ repeatedly deliver his 91-93mph fastball up in the zone without it being punished is stupefying. Yet it works! I anticipate the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays to give Happ a legitimate chance at the starting rotation, and I would be very content with a solid veteran innings-eater who can pitch to the caliber of a Clayton Richard or Randy Wells. With all of the uncertainty surrounding this young promising team, a little stability is a welcome sign of reprieve.
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