When Rookie of the Year candidate J.A. Happ recorded the final out of his complete game, one could almost see the weight of the world lifted off of the kids shoulders.
Happ had just pitched a complete game gem that saw the youngster shut down a formidable opponent. The kid was sharp and only ran into trouble a few times and worked with precision to extract himself from those situations.
Following Happ’s game ending fist pump, the real story unfolded.
When Carlos Ruiz met Happ at the mound, he was greeted with a hug from the veteran catcher. And then another hug. Then another.
Before general manager Ruben Amaro had the chance to proclaim that Happ would remain in the rotation, the decision was made by his teammates. Happ stays.
How many times have you seen Cole Hamels embraced by his teammates following a complete game?
The players made a statement that night and it was clear that the veterans were pulling for the rookie. Even closer Brad Lidge admitted following the game that the team was rooting for the kid.
So what does this do for Happ’s confidence?
Happ is no longer pitching for a rotation spot. He is now a main stay. Couple that with faith from his teammates and we may have yet to see the best out of the young lefty.
The Phillies love to hit when Happ is on the mound as evidenced by the fact that they have produced five or more runs, six times in Happ’s last ten starts. The line-up’s seven run outburst during Happ’s start against the Rockies was their highest total by far this week when the bats have been otherwise silent.
It’s clear the starters have faith in this kid and believe he has the mental toughness to get through what is hopefully a lengthy postseason. Happ has already battled through adversity this season. He pitched through the trade deadline and while his head was on the starting rotation chopping block.
Not only did he pitch well, he made an emphatic statement that he does indeed belong.
Equally emphatic was the show of support from his teammates. That statement screamed that yes, Happ does belong.