J.A. Happ could be the favorite to win the fifth stater’s job. Happ’s success last season could give him a slight edge over the others competitors.
Last season, the twenty-six year old lefty pitched a total of 31.2 innings. His 3.70 ERA and 26 strikeouts was good enough to make the postseason roster as a reliever. Recalled from Triple-A when Brett Myers was demoted, most of Happ’s success came in four appearances as a starter. He had an excellent 2.28 ERA as a starter and opponents batted just .188 off him.
Myers returned, and Happ was moved to the bullpen and struggled. In 8 innings, Happ had an ERA of 7.88 and WHIP of 1.88. Opponents hit .343 off him.
Towards the end of the season, Happ replaced Kyle Kendrick in the rotation and finished strong. During the month of September, Happ had an ERA of 2.41 and averaged eight strikeouts per nine innings. Happ also made one appearance in the National League Championship Series. In 3 innings of relief, Happ allowed just one run and struck out two.
Even if Happ does not win the starting job, there is a chance that he will still make the major league roster. Without J.C. Romero for 50 games, the Phillies are in need of another left handed option out of the bullpen. Despite his bullpen struggles in the past, Happ could fill that hole.
Proving he can be compete in critical situations, the Phillies have a good feeling about Happ entering spring training.