Honestly I do not know why there is so much discussion about sending JA Happ to the bullpen. If last night was any indication, Happ has earned his spot in the starting rotation.
Happ threw his second career complete game shut-out, his second of the season as well, and gave the Phillies a much needed quality start to save the bullpen. The offense backed him up with a quick run in the first inning and by utilizing the long ball as Pedro Feliz and Jimmy Rollins each went deep in the second inning to get the Phillies in front 4-0.
It was more than enough for Happ, but Jayson Werth got in on the act with an opposite field three run home run in the fifth inning to put the Colorado Rockies in a tough hole.
This hole though would be muddy because the way Happ was throwing it was going to be tough to climb out of. Happ went over 120 pitches and allowed just four hits on the night.
After walking the lead off batter in the game he only allowed one walk the rest of the way. Proving to be the master of his domain, Happ struck out ten batters on a Rockies squad that had been hitting the ball pretty well lately during their surge to the National League Wild Card lead.
The hype entering tonight's game was that Happ would probably be making his final start in the rotation, as it is believed he could be moved to the bullpen to make way for Pedro Martinez, who was dominant in double A Reading as well (more on him later). Charlie Manuel was quoted as saying that Happ proved that he wants to stay in the starting rotation, and the 45,000 plus fans at Citizens Bank Park probably agree.
After retiring the side in the eighth inning Happ was given a standing ovation as he walked to the dugout. Due to hit third in the bottom of the eighth and already just over the 100 pitch mark it was widely thought that Happ's night would be done after eight outstanding innings and a reliever would come in to finish the deal in the ninth.
But Happ did not leave the game. When he came up to bat the atmosphere would have made you think that Ryan Howard or Jim Thome was coming up with the bass loaded in the bottom of the ninth of a tight game. And then he delivered.
Happ smacked a double over the head of Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler, who was playing incredibly shallow, and the fans loved it. It was Happ's third career hit, and his first for extra bases.
Phillies fans will have to wait and see how the club works out their starting rotation over the course of the next week. But Happ has done all you could ask of him, and more, to prove that he deserves a spot in the rotation.
The Phillies go for the series victory Thursday afternoon when Cliff Lee makes his Citizens Bank Park debut in a business person's special. Aaron Cook will take the mound for the Rockies.