The Yankees acquired J.A. Happ to solidify the rotation and the 35-year-old southpaw will make his team debut on Sunday afternoon against the Royals.
He has had success with several teams in a major league career that started in 2007, and Aaron Boone isn’t worried about things possibly being different for Happ now that he’s in pinstripes.
“I expect JA to go out and pitch well,” Boone said. “I’ve always been, I guess, a fan of J.A. Happ and what he brings and feel like in a lot of ways he’s been underrated over the years. I think he’s really focused, I think he’s really excited to be here and be a part of this club.”
Happ began his career with the Phillies in 2007, and pitched against the Yankees in the 2009 World Series. He was with the Astros from 2010-2012, and then a Blue Jay from 2012-2014.
After going 4-6 with the Mariners in the first half of 2015, he was traded to the Pirates, who were making a run for a division title. Happ went 7-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 11 starts, proving he can thrive as a hired gun.
“I think he has all the equipment emotionally, mentally to deal with that stuff,” Boone said. “My expectation is that he’s going to go out and give us a strong outing today.”
Happ won 20 games for Toronto in 2016, and was named to his first All-Star team earlier this month. He even recorded the save in the American League’s 8-6 win at Nationals Park, although he has never saved a game in the regular season in his career.
After June, Happ was 10-3 with a 3.62 ERA. In four starts in July he is 0-3 and his ERA has increased to 4.18. That includes a July 7 start against the Yankees where he gave up six earned runs in 2.2 innings. Clearly that was not a failed audition as the Yankees still thought he was worth bringing in, a decision that looks better after Luis Severino struggled again yesterday.
Boone said Happ’s July problems were a combination of a little struggling and a suspect Toronto defense. “I don’t think it’s been much different than, frankly, what it’s been all season long,” Boone said.