Happ Pitching Over His Head

With the struggles of Cole Hamels, J.A Happ has been the Phillies ace this season.  He has been the most consistent starter and his numbers open eyes.

The value of Happ is much larger than it was in spring training when it was uncertain whether he would make the roster.  Now, Happ has made himself a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate.  In 100 innings pitched, he is 7-1 with a 2.97 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and opponents are batting .222 against him.

Happ finally came back to Earth last night after allowing five earned runs in six innings.  Last night’s performance was either a fluke, or the real J.A.  Either way, Happ has been pitching way over his head.

Happ was never considered a top prospect like the Kyle Drabek’s of today.  In a way, he came out of no where, much like Kyle Kendrick.  Kendrick had a decent rookie year, going 10-4 and posted a 3.87 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.  The following season, Kendrick suffered the hated sophomore slump and never returned to form while in the majors. Happ and Kendrick are similar in that they are not big strikeout pitchers.  Happ has 71 strikeouts, but Kendrick got into trouble by relying on contact to make outs. Happ is much better than Kendrick, but will he suffer from a sophomore slump next season once hitters figure him out? 

Even though Happ is having a tremendous season, his future is not as an ace.  Down the road, he will likely be a number three or four starter, at best.  He is not overpowering and does not have a big strikeout pitch.  Having a middle of the rotation guy is important, however having multiple aces is better.

Trade rumors haven’t seemed to affect Happ.  Happ isn’t going to solely replace Drabek in a deal because Drabek has a higher ceiling.  Even though Happ has been successful in the majors, Drabek is projected as an ace once he reaches the big show.  There is always a possibility that Drabek could fall off the radar, but since he is ranked as one of the best prospects in all of baseball, his value is larger than Happ’s.  In order to replace Drabek in a deal, the Phillies would have to throw in Happ and one or two other smaller prospects, in addition to Michael Taylor or Dominic Brown and then some.  Luckily, Happ’s value is high enough that the Phillies could save a couple prospects if he was in a deal.

Because of his terrific season, the Phillies would like to keep Happ, however, it might not be a terrible idea to throw him in a deal while his value is high.  After all, if the Phillies get one of the best, proven pitcher in today’s game, it would be worth it.

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