J.A. Happ Back on the Mound

Paul RaymondCorrespondent IJune 8, 2010

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher J.A. Happ is finally back on the mound; he’ll be making his first rehab start with Single-A Clearwater tonight. Happ has been on the disabled list since April 22nd with a sore left forearm. He’s been working out in Florida and was finally given the go ahead for game action after throwing 28 pitches in extended spring training action.

This is big for the Phillies as they could definitely use Happ back in their rotation. He was off to a great start in his sophomore campaign before experiencing the soreness. He’s pitched 10 and 1/3 innings and given up only one run, none earned. So he’s got a 0.00 ERA after two starts with five strikeouts and eight walks. Six of those walks came in his last start before the D.L., so the injury could have played a role.

After tonight’s game Happ will reevaluated by team doctors but I’m sure he’s still a ways from pitching in the big leagues. After almost two months he’s going to need a couple starts to get his arm strength back to the point where it should be. Once he is ready the Phillies do have a big question on there hands.

Who gets bumped from the rotation when he’s ready?

Most people would say Kyle Kendrick, I disagree. Kendrick has been solid this year, yes his ERA is 4.62 after 11 starts and 62 innings but he’s been pretty good as of late. He’s only allowed eight earned runs over the past 25 and 2/3 innings pitched for an ERA of 2.81. He can be existent but he’s been a lot better then someone else.

That someone else is Joe Blanton. Blanton has been absolutely awful in 2010. He has a 6.07 ERA over 43 innings and already allowed nine homeruns. If that trend continues while Happ is rehabbing then I’d definitely consider bumping Blanton from the rotation.

Yes, that could cost the team some money, Blanton is making $7 million and under team control for another two years at $8.5 million per year but he’s proven he’s not worth the money.

The Phillies are in a dogfight with the Atlanta Braves for the National League East (with the New York Mets breathing down there neck). This means the Phillies need their best players on the field if they’re going to play in their third consecutive World Series. If that means wasting a few dollars then so be it.

Regardless, it’s a good thing Happ is back in the mound. Once he’s healthy it will give the Phillies a solid 1,2,3 and maybe a solid 4th on Moyer’s good days.