After his four inning, 100-pitch outing, J.A. Happ said he felt good physically and the only problem was that he was rushing himself on the mound. The look on his face and the tone of his voice though betrayed him and seemed to have the look and sound of a very frustrated young pitcher. In his four innings of work, Happ allowed six hits and gave up four walks, while striking out four and giving up two earned runs. Of his 100 pitches, 58 were for strikes.
"That pitch to the kid [Trevor Plouffe] that hit the home run off of me, I knew I was rushing it before I even released it and I thought it could be trouble," admitted Happ. In fact, Happ admitted to consistently rushing himself and not being able to settle into a groove on the Coca-Cola Park mound. Overall though, he felt that physically, he is where he needs to be and that his pitches are also where they need to be as well. "I didn't throw too many secondary pitches tonight, but I did have a couple of good cutters and the curve was pretty good when I needed it," said Happ.
Happ's velocity did improve over his previous rehab starts, when he was generally around 90 miles per hour, at best. In this outing, Happ was in the mid-90s and his curve dropped down to the low-90s.
If there was one thing that Happ wanted to make clear, it was how good he felt physically. "The injury is over. Now, it's just a matter of shaking off the rust and getting back to where I need to be. I've had enough outings that I should have shaken the rust off, but at least I'm healthy and able to get out there. At least all of the issues are things that I can correct, because I feel good."
Happ's situation is complicated by two things; first, the Phillies rotation, while not great, has been at least adequate. While Joe Blanton struggled through his first eight starts of the season, posting a 7.28 ERA in those starts, he has turned things around and has given the Phillies three strong starts, working out to a 3.80 ERA over those starts, including his win over Cincinnati Tuesday night. Jamie Moyer has turned into one of the ancient wonders of the world and Roy Halladay has been Roy Halladay all season long for the Phillies. Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick have been inconsistent, but certainly, Hamels isn't going anywhere.
The second thing complicating Happ's situation is that his rehab assignment time is slowly running out. Players have 30 days per rehab assignment and Happ's rehab clock started ticking on June 8, giving him time for just one more rehab start, which would likely come on either Sunday or Monday against Pawtucket. If it's up to Happ though, he won't be sticking around for even one more start. "It's up to them, but I don't really think I'll need another start down here. Obviously, if they want me to keep pitching here or wherever in the minors, I'll do that, but I think I'm ready to get back out there."
The most likely move would be for either Happ or Kendrick to go into the Phillies bullpen, although both have options left and either could be sent to Lehigh Valley to work on gaining consistency.
J.A. Happ's rehab starts
|June 29||Lehigh Valley||4.50||4.0||6||2||2||2||0||4||4||0||.333|