J.A. Happ isn’t exactly what you’d call a happy camper with the Toronto Blue Jays these days.
Oh, he’s doing just fine on the mound in spring, though. Having just given a couple of earned runs on 13 hits over 9.1 innings with just one walk allowed and five strikeouts, the lefty has been showing that he’s been more than good enough to make the Blue Jays roster.
It’s a fact that’s especially evident considering the ongoing struggles of No. 5 starter Ricky Romero, and bullpen candidates Brett Cecil and Jeremy Jeffress.
That said, by the time the team takes the field on Opening Day for introductions, it’s likely that Happ won’t be joining them, and will instead be reporting to Triple-A Buffalo as its ace — and that he can’t seem to do anything to avoid that fate has left a sour taste in his mouth.
Happ’s exact words on the situation was that “it’s very frustrating” for him to be in the spot, and that “it’s not like [the Blue Jays] don’t know what [he is] capable of doing.”
The 30-year old knows that he’s “a major-league starter”, and the main reason why he happens to be Buffalo-bound is the fact that he still has an option, and guys like Cecil and Jeffress don’t.
So, despite Cecil’s problems with the Blue Jays over the last couple of years, the team will give him every opportunity to stay on the team because they can afford to shift Happ back down to the minors.
On the other hand, it’s actually quite an ideal situation for the Blue Jays, considering that they’ve learned their lesson about having pitching depth in case of a couple (or four, or five…) injuries occur. Happ would provide an excellent major-league ready arm in case somebody goes down or struggles in the rotation.
And by struggle, I think I’m really just talking about Ricky Romero here. While there’s definitely a pretty good chance that someone in the rotation may miss some time (I’m looking at you, Brandon Morrow), Romero’s problems this spring are undoubtedly weighing on the minds of the Blue Jays brass.
It’s probably not going to be enough to get the team to pull the plug Cecil-style like 2012, but it’s not as though this team can afford give him the rope they did during his collapse all last season either. Yes, Romero has earned the leash by being pretty good in the years prior to 2012, but it’s shortening by each outing, especially for a team that’s looking to come out to make a statement as a contender.
So for now, Happ looms, and he’ll have to settle for doing so unhappily.
I have a feeling that he might not have to for very long, though, given how quickly these situations can change.