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Happ: Rotation or Bust

Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee recently stated that Kyle Kendrick was the favorite to win the fifth spot in the rotation. However, I still believe that J.A. Happ will win the job.

Last season, Happ was bounced around from the starting rotation to the bullpen and back due to the struggles of Brett Myers and Kendrick. Most of his success came as a starter where he had a 2.28 ERA and opponents batted just .188 off him. Happ finished the season strong, with a 2.41 ERA in September making the postseason roster.

If Happ does not win the starting job this spring, there is a chance he could fill the much needed hole as a left handed relief pitcher. However, if Happ doesn’t start in the majors, he should start in AAA.

Filling J.C. Romero’s shoes isn’t an easy job to fill. There are still question marks as to whether Scott Eyre will be able to. Happ doesn’t have much bullpen experience, and in the experience he has, he struggled. In 8 innings of relief, Happ had a 7.88 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, and opponents batted .343 off the lefty.

Happ pitched mostly in mop up situations out of the ‘pen, but in 2009, he would be pitching in late innings during close games. The Phillies can’t afford to have him put up those type numbers in big situations. Even if the Phillies decide not to use him in those situations, having him sit is a waste. At least he’d be able to get some work in the minors.

Happ’s future is as a starter, not a reliever. There is no reason in changing the way he pitches, throwing him out there every day, instead of every five. Happ is better off getting some extra seasoning in the minor leagues than relieving.

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