Yankees: JA Happ has to give rotation spot up now
By Adam Weinrib
The Yankees have to replace JA Happ right now. Sorry, it’s just business.
The New York Yankees, in a shortened season, have to basically accept subpar work from James Paxton while he attempts to find himself, battling back from back surgery.
But what’s JA Happ’s excuse? Do we really have to be doing this with two rotation spots?
Happ doesn’t have it anymore. Whether he’s had any semblance of “it” for the past 20 months is also a valid debate.
Whatever your opinion of the bulk of the fastball-only lefty’s work was, it can’t be denied anymore. Happ is done being an effective pitcher with the New York Yankees, and the team also has a plethora of far better options who deserve big league starts.
Happ’s two starts on the young season have followed just about the same pattern of events, though Wednesday’s effort in the first game of a doubleheader was far more troubling.
His first start was against Baltimore. Happ was spotted a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning, buoyed by a Luke Voit grand slam. By the bottom of the second, that advantage had already been sliced to 5-4, with Hanser Alberto and Rio Ruiz using a pair of fastballs for some unscheduled BP.
On Wednesday, needing to save the ‘pen at the start of a seven-inning double dip, Happ walked six men in three innings, turning a 3-0 lead into pudding in a span of eight batters in the third. Walk, fly out, Bryce Harper monster shot, walk, blooper, walk, walk, run-scoring FC, third out.
No Yankee’s been quite that bleak, control-wise, since AJ Burnett. No Yankee’s been quite this cuttable ’til … well, now. Happ is a precision-based pitcher. If he’s walking six, and he’s nowhere close to the dish on any of them, then the time for pleasantries is over. His option can’t be allowed to vest after this mess.
New York has Michael King and Nick Nelson on the big league roster, thirsting for playing time,
Perhaps more importantly, the team has Clarke Schmidt at the Alternate Site, wasting away playing pinochle with Clint Frazier while Happ licks his fingers and tries to remember if that really was him who started Game 1 at Fenway Park in 2018.
Was it him? Was it really? Good lord.
Happ will go down as a great trade acquisition, a semi-misguided extension candidate last offseason, and a past-his-past-his-prime option in 2020 who needs to give way to the Yankees’ rookies, all of whom are pounding on the door while Happ yawns and reads a magazine.
Make the move. This team is great. Why make it slightly worse on purpose?