As the Yankees continue heating up and making the division at least interesting as the page turns to September, a number of players have hit hot streaks. But there might not be anyone who’s been as consistently good since joining the Yankees as J.A. Happ.
A month ago, who would have guessed he’d be the Yankees best pitcher in August?
As the trade deadline approached last month, it seemed like every pitcher, including Happ, was stumbling. Trade options didn’t look great, and in the six starts leading up the deadline, Happ was getting shelled. But post-deadline, Happ has been reborn since becoming a Yankee.
Through five starts, he hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any start and has pitched at least five innings each time out. Here are the stat lines over those 11 starts.
During the recent stretch, Happ has seen his season ERA drop from 4.18 to 3.80. What’s most interesting is that none of his metrics vary all that much between the two stretches.
Swinging strikes, groundball percentage, hard hit percentage and walk percentage have all stayed relatively flat. There’s really nothing that jumps out about why he’s been performing better as of late.
Perhaps the recent resurgence can be chalked up to joining a new team. Trade talks and playing for a losing team deflates some players. Happ might have felt a newfound purpose after joining a contender.
The pessimist might say, well, look at the schedule. Happ faced Atlanta, Houston, New York and Boston in that rough stretch, whereas the toughest team he’s faced with the Yankees is Tampa Bay. Though to be fair, Happ also got shelled by Detroit during that bad stretch as well.
Whether thanks to luck or new life, Happ has been crucial to the Yankees resurgence over the last few weeks. With injuries and struggles to everyone not named Masahiro Tanaka, he’s been that much more important. As things stand, there’s been plenty of arguments for starting Happ in a do or die wildcard game. The Yankees still have another month to go before that, but Happ is certainly making the case.