J.A. Happ can't cut a break.
Beginning the season in a battle for the fifth rotation spot with Chan Ho Park, Happ pitched well, but Park had slightly better numbers and got the job. After Park's struggles, Happ was given and chance in the rotation and he has not looked back.
His season stats from starting and relief are an 8-2 record with 2.74 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 86 Ks in 115 innings of work.
For this article, I'm not going to talk about stats like batting average against on balls in play. I want to talk about what Happ has done with this opportunity and how he has not let the trade talks and moving to the bullpen rumors affect his play.
Heck, he's thrived off it.
For weeks, he was listed as a centerpiece in trade talks for the Blue Jays' Roy Halladay. He didn't have any control over the situation and went out and pitched every fifth day for the Phillies. He didn't complain to the media or cause a problem in the locker room like most diva NFL quarterbacks do when their names are mentioned in trade talks or someone might replace them.
There were so many talks about him going to Toronto that when the highlights of last night's shutout were aired on SportsCenter, the announcer made a joke about him actually not being on the Blue Jays.
Once the Phillies traded for Lee and he was not involved in the trade, he probably thought his rotation spot was safe.
That was until beat writers began speculating that it would be J.A. Happ sent to the bullpen, so that Pedro Martinez could join the rotation. Comments from pitching coach Rich Dubee also helped form this speculation.
One reason is that Happ would probably do the best in the bullpen of the three candidates to get moved: Jamie Moyer and Pedro Martinez being the other two.
Happ is the best starter of the three and is pitching better than anyone on the team this year. He has out-pitched Hamels, even though I'm not worried about the World Series MVP. Blanton has been great the past few months, but Happ has been just as good.
In what was thought might be Happ's last start of the season, Happ pitched brilliantly last night. Tossing a complete game shutout, allowing only six baserunners during the game, may have saved him his spot in the rotation.
He was lights out, striking out ten batters. The Rockies have a decent lineup too. He did all this throwing 127 pitches and still maintained his velocity on his fastball throughout the game.
His demeanor is always the same on the mound. He doesn't get rattled like a rookie should. He battles and never looks beaten out there.
Whatever happens with the rotation decision, let's give credit to a young pitcher who has pitched through tough situations this year and is helping the Phillies have a chance to repeat as World Champs.
EDIT: Breaking News: JA Happ staying in the rotation for the rest of the season, according to Ruben Amaro Jr.