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J.A. Happ

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James Anthony Happ

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[edit] Biographical Information

Pitcher J.A. Happ was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the third round of the 2004 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Bob Szymkowski and made his pro debut that summer with the Batavia Muckdogs. After splitting the next season between the Lakewood BlueClaws and the Reading Phillies, he made three stops in 2006: the Clearwater Threshers, Reading again, and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. He began 2007 with the Ottawa Lynx and was called up to the majors to make a start for the Phillies on June 30th. He gave up five earned runs in four innings against the New York Mets and was then returned to AAA.

In 2008, Happ was back with the big club at the end of the season, making 4 starts in 8 appearances and picking up his first major league victory while posting a solid 3.69 ERA. In AAA, he went 8-7, 3.60 in 24 games with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. He was on the Phillies' postseason roster and made one appearance in long relief in Game 3 of the NLCS, when Jamie Moyer was knocked out early by the Los Angeles Dodgers; he pitched three innings, giving up one run on 4 hits and 2 walks. He was not used in the World Series, which the Phillies won against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Happ had an excellent rookie season in 2009, going 12-4, 2.93 in 35 games (23 starts) for the Phillies. His two shutouts were tied for the National League lead. He started Game 3 against the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS but was not involved in the decision, then was used solely out of the bullpen for the remainder of the postseason, making one other appearance in the Division Series, 3 in the NLCS and two in the World Series, which the Phillies lost to the New York Yankees.

On July 29, 2010, Happ was sent to the Houston Astros in the Roy Oswalt trade. Bothered by injuries, he had only made three starts for the Phillies, as well as nine minor league appearances before the trade. With Houston, he went 5-4, 3.75 in 13 starts. He was then a part of the Astros' rotation for all of 2011, but was only 6-15 with a 5.35 ERA. He turned things around to some extent in 2012, improving to 7-9, 4.83 after 18 starts. He was then sent to the Toronto Blue Jays as part of a 10-player blockbuster trade on July 20th. With Toronto, he started 6 times in 10 appearances, going 3-2, 4.69 in 40 1/3 innings.

The Jays made massive changes to their roster before the 2013 season, including acquiring a number of veteran starting pitchers such as Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, in an all-out bid to make the postseason. Happ appeared to be one the players on the outs as a result of the moves, and headed into spring training unsure if he would have a place on the revamped team. He seemed destined for the minor leagues, but former Jays ace Ricky Romero struggled in the spring and was sent to the minors, opening the fifth starter's job for Happ. Not only that, but Toronto then offered him a two-year contract extension, indicating that his place on the team was safe for a while. He rewarded the Jays with a very good first start, facing the Boston Red Sox on April 6th. He gave up only one hit and no runs in 5 1/3 innings to be credited with his team's 5-0 win. When he won his second start on April 12h, 8-4 over the Kansas City Royals, he was still the only Jays' starter with a win as the team was off to an unexpected rough start. On May 7th, he suffered a scary accident in a start against the Tampa Bay Rays as Desmond Jennings lined a hit off the side of his head and into the outfield. Happ immediately fell motionless to the ground as his teammates and trainers were unsure whether to play the ball or attend to him; the hit ended up as a two-run triple, and Happ had to be removed from the game on a stretcher after lying bloodied on the ground for 10 minutes. He did manage to wave to the crowd and to teammates as he left, and initial reports from the hospital were that he was conscious and responsive. He was discharged less than 48 hours later, with only skin lacerations and contusion resulting from the blow, including a small fracture behind his left ear, while also spraining his knee when he fell down in a heap; he had managed to move to turn his head slightly away from he ball, limiting the full impact of the hit. Worst of these was the knee issue, which pushed the Jays to place him on the 60-day disabled list, as he was not expected to be back until early July. In fact, the rehabilitation took longer than anticipated, as he finally made it back to the mound for the Jays on August 7th. Facing the Seattle Mariners, he had a 7-2 lead by the 3rd inning, but was unable to hold on to it, as he gave up another run in the 4th and then allowed the first four batters in the 6th to reach; all of them scored, but he got off with a no-decision. He did much better in his next outing on August 17th, when he defeated the Rays, 6-2, pitching 5 1/3 innings to earn credit for his third win of the year.

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