TAMPA – J.A. Happ had a bad year in 2019. Let's get this out of the way in advance.
Because Happ also had a valuable season. Not every ERA of 4.91 is the same. The ability to place five innings and give up three or four runs doesn't mean the same thing for every team. In a club with perhaps the best offensive and the best major bullpen, three or four runs in five innings gave the Yankees a chance to win.
Over time, we've devalued a pitcher's won-loss record because of many factors beyond the starter's control. So ignore that Happ went 12-8. Focus on the Yankees between 20 and 10 when he started. You think that happens when the Americans had to turn to Adams or David Hale or Luis Cessa for these starts?
And do the math: 20 plus 10 equals 30. Participation was also valuable for a Yankees team that set the record for most players on the injured list, with every major member of the rotation except Happ and Masahiro Tanaka doing at least one stint ,
James Paxton is more talented than Happ, as is Luis Severino. But when Happ returned to his locker on Saturday after two perfect innings at the Yankees' spring against Toronto, Paxton spoke to reporters about catching. In 10 days. Far from assuring that after a back operation he will keep his perfect record of never starting 30 games in one season. Severino was preparing for a Sunday flight to New York to do a series of tests to determine what was going on with his aching forearm.
"I'm proud of it," said Happ, whose 149 starts in the majors have ranked 14th in the past five years.
Presence is important. There are too many games and innings not to do it. The analytics revolution has increased rate statistics over the crowd, which for the most part gives more insight into a player's skills. But the mass is still important. A lot of. Because you really need to play the 162 games and cover about 1,450 innings.
The opener can work. But in how many rotation points? And what a disadvantage when we saw that relief pitching had a far greater success with more exposure and wear last year.
"I totally agree [value of a durable starter]"Said Tim Naehring, the Yankees' vice president for baseball operations." Of course you want performance with that. "
To this end, Happ worked feverishly on his body this off-season, threw more frequently, and had someone's eyes in front of him on Saturday. His fastball was already at 92-93 mph. He broke out a rarely used two-seater to freeze Cavan Biggio in the first, and closed the second by sequentially using the two-seater after the 3-1 deficit to sniff Randal Grichuk. It is a place he wants to use especially for lefties to better open the corridors for his four-seater bread and butter in the zone.
Happ didn't have this fastball more than half of the season last year. He felt that his lower half was out of sync with his upper half, which led to three terrible starts to open the season. This involved tinkering, which helped and hurt almost equally, leaving Happ mostly confused, frustrated, and leaving the Yankees version of Edwin Diaz behind – when the ball went up in the air he went out so many times. In Homer's Year, Happ delivered 34, seven more than any other season before.
Happ locked up late. In his last six games (five starts), he had a stroke average of 0.177 and an ERA of 2.23 over 32¹ / ₃ innings – left-handed players achieved an MLB-low stroke average of 0.078 and a stroke percentage of 0.098 from August 1st. Nevertheless, the Yankees did not use him as a off-season starter and dangled him in trade talks for a time in the off-season, partly to save his $ 17 million. However, they learned that Domingo German would miss the first two months after the MLB's domestic violence protocol suspension, and they monitored the non-improving condition of Paxton's back.
The 37-year-old Happ wants to be the second oldest starter of the majors after Adam Wainwright from St. Louis. Teammate CC Sabathia is retiring, Minnesota Rich Hill is not physically ready to start the year, and Jason Vargas is not yet signed. Nevertheless, Happ's durability remained crucial even at his age. So he was held and at that moment could be the No. 3 starter behind Gerrit Cole and Tanaka. It was at this level in 2018, especially after being drawn from Toronto at the close of trading.
"He came here before the game," Boone said of Happ. "He will go out and have a very J.A. lucky season."
That means taking the ball every five days, week after week, and – as the Americans believe – throwing more like the Happ version of the end of 2019.