Jays From the Couch brings you the player Highlights & Lowlights from the 2017 season. This time: J.A. Happ
The 2017 season wasn’t exactly the follow up to the career year J.A. Happ experienced in 2016. However, with all things considered the Illinois native performed admirably despite having his season interrupted by an elbow injury. Unfortunately, his absence came at a time when the team was struggling, and exposed the team’s lack of pitching depth.
Overall the 2017 season didn’t have anything that jumps off the page for Happ. Unless, of course, you’re a fan of consistency. Which is exactly what was provided over his 25 starts, 22 after returning from injury.
After missing just over a calendar month with an inflamed elbow, the lefty jumped back into the rotation on May 3oth. A start which he made without any minor-league rehab appearances to get him prepared for the rigors of the season ahead. His willingness to do so was a great service to a team and rotation suffering injuries and inconsistency.
When looking at the season as a while in comparison to the previous season, Happ, actually outperformed his 2016 statistics in several areas. Despite having a higher era 3.53 compared to 3.13, the left-hander produced a lower FIP of 3.76 compared to 3.96 in 2016. He also boosted his SO/W ratio to an excellent 3.09 from 2.72 thanks in part to an increase in his SO/9 ratio from 7.5 to 8.8.
In a season all but lost by August, Happ produced some of his finest work to help keep the team respectable to the end. His last 11 starts produced a 7-3 record for the lefty, as well as a 7-4 record for the team. These results were in large part due his ability to avoid damage from opposing hitters which is shown by the .329 slugging percentage posted by opposing hitters. As well as a 9.6 SO/W ratio.
It’s easy to pinpoint the lowest part of the season for Happ considering the first two months were basically a wash. After making three starts in April, one being a quality start, the veteran of the rotation hit the disabled list. The injury stint resulted in a month away from the team and approximately seven starts.
Health provided, the upcoming season should be more of the same from the 35-year-old veteran. Happ will be penciled into the rotation as the only left-handed starter – at this point – and should make his 30 starts. Whether his innings logged and age will start to show is something that remains to be seen. However, there’s nothing that indicates he should be hampered by either at this point.
Happ is entering the final year of his 3 year/$36MM dollar contract which he signed before the 2016 season. While he will do his part to help make the team competitive, do not be surprised if his name comes up in trade rumors. Should the team fall out of playoff contention there should be plenty of teams looking to add his pedigree to their respective rotations.
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Wade is a long time baseball fan who has been involved with the game for over 30 years. Including as a former college player, amateur pitching coach, and blogger.