If the rest of the AL East weren’t worried about J.A. Happ before the 2013 season, I’m guessing they’ve probably got him on notice now.
In fact, despite all of his frustrating inconsistencies that say he might not be an ideal candidate to start for the Toronto Blue Jays going forward, one major reason why the team should consider keeping him in the rotation next season is exactly because of the damage he’s done to the team’s divisional foes — which also happen to be their most important games.
Don’t just take my word for it, though.
Ask the Tampa Bay Rays, whose supposed postseason coronation turned into the team being pushed to the brink of a three-team race in the AL thanks to 7.1 innings of one-run ball courtesy of Happ in his latest turn. The Baltimore Orioles? They only faced the lefty once, but managed only four hits and one unearned run in that outing.
The Boston Red Sox did not have too much luck either, scoring just two runs on four hits even though that Happ walked a whopping 10 batters through nine innings between two starts against them.
Whether it’s effectively wild or just plain effective, the 30-year old seems to have found that intangible, unquantifiable way to get it done against the AL Beast.
That’s even true when he struggles to get outs against a team, and nobody knows this better than the New York Yankees. Of all the teams that Happ has faced in baseball’s toughest division, the Bronx Bombers are the team that’s given him the toughest time, scoring 13 earned runs in 23 innings on 22 hits over four turns.
Then again, the southpaw also took Curtis Granderson out for months with a fastball to the hand in Spring Training, and then nearly ended the Yankees’ season early by doing the very same against Robinson Cano.
The star second baseman only wound up missing a couple of games with a deep bone bruise, but the message sent is pretty clear, and I would imagine that there aren’t a whole lot of Yankees players that are dying to step into the box against Happ … not that he’s intentionally trying to hit any of them, of course.
Are these mere coincidences? Perhaps. Am I being facetious? Maybe just a little. Still, despite having pitched just 92.2 innings in 2013, Happ has managed a remarkable season in which he came back from a potentially life-threatening on-field incident to do his fair share against the Blue Jays’ biggest foes.
Imagine what he can do with a full season? The Yankees might want to start getting some thicker batting gloves.