At least J.A. Happ looked a little more like his old self Sunday night in his final rehab start. The outcome still wasn't up to his level, but his velocity was better - low to mid-90s - and his pitches had more bite to them. As for his control, he walked four hitters in 5 1/3 innings, it's hard to judge since both teams were getting squeezed on their pitches and a number of Happ's pitches that were taken for balls looked pretty much like strikes.
Happ easily set down the first nine hitters in a row before getting into trouble in the fourth. Happ allowed a lead-off single followed by an RBI double to start the fourth and one out later, started to get squeezed by the homeplate umpire. Two walks and a ground ball to second allowed a second run to score before Happ worked out of the inning by getting Tug Hulett on a fly ball to left field. Again in the fifth, Happ was in trouble, but it was alleviated by right fielder Domonic Brown, who threw out Juan Apodaca, who was attempting to stretch a single into a double with one out in the top of the inning. A single and a walk didn't do any damage, but a walk and a double in the top of the sixth produced another run and ended Happ's night at 103 pitches.
So now, with just a couple of days left on Happ's rehab assignment - not enough time for him to get another start - the Phillies will need to make a decision on their young left-hander. They can either choose to activate him and put him on the major league roster, activate him and option him to Lehigh Valley or file an appeal with major league baseball to extend his time on the DL and give him another rehab assignment for another 30 days. Happ thought he was ready to return to the Phillies after his last outing and his feelings certainly haven't changed after this outing.
"There isn't anything specific that I really need to work on now," said Happ after his Sunday night outing. "I would have liked to go six [innings] tonight; that was the one thing that I haven't shown."
In each of his outings, Happ's pitch count has grown quicker than the Phillies would like to see and his last time out, he was limited to four innings because his pitch count had reached 100 pitches. Happ did better at controlling his pitch count in his latest outing, but struggling through the fourth inning on 30 pitches pushed his pitch count to 84 pitches after four innings of work and doomed him for the rest of the night.
"I think that I was just trying to do too much that inning [the fourth] and was trying to strike everybody out rather than just get them out," explained Happ. Even though both pitchers were getting squeezed on their pitches, Happ didn't allow that to enter into his thinking and wasn't going to use that as an excuse. "I don't even want to talk about that," said Happ.
For now, it's just a matter of waiting to see what is next for Happ. "I'm anxious to get up there. It would be nice to go up there and be relevant again," said Happ.