When the new Toronto brain trust inked J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36M deal at the end of November, plenty of people in Blue Jays Nation voiced their frustration with the move. He’d been in Toronto before, serving as a back of the rotation starter with a 19-20 record over two seasons and change. Whether it was using that money to bring back David Price, which was never going to happen, or simply targeting someone a little flashier, fans weren’t all that keen on Happ coming back to town.
Seven starts into his 2016 campaign, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone in a Blue Jays caps that will admit they didn’t like the signing. Instead, everyone will likely tell you that they knew Happ was a terrific cost-effective addition now that the lefty has gotten off to an outstanding start.
Tuesday night in San Francisco, Happ came one out shy of a complete game shutting, limiting the Giants to six hits while walking three and striking out five to pick the victory as Toronto collected a 4-0 win. On the season, the 33 year old is 5-0 with a 2.05 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP.
For the record, Price is 4-1 for the Red Sox, but carries a 6.75 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP.
Happ has been outstanding from the outset this year, going six innings or more in each of his starts while giving up seven hits or fewer in seven of those games. While this may seem unexpected or fluky to some, it’s right in line with the stats he put up after being traded to Pittsburgh last season and making adjustments to his delivery.
Since that time, only Chicago Cubs Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta has a lower ERA in all of baseball. Not bad for the guy that not many people wanted around when he signed at the end of November.
Happ wasn’t the only one that had a tremendous game on Tuesday night in San Francisco, but while his strong outing has come to be expected this season, his partner-in-crime at the plate for the Jays has been at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Troy Tulotwitzki finally had a big game, going 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and three RBI as the main offensive contributor for the club. The former All-Star entered the game hitting just .165 and had collected all of five hits in the month of May before last night’s strong outing.
Both Toronto and Tulowitzki are fortunate that there are other offensive options on this club, meaning he doesn’t have to shoulder the same kind of load he did in Colorado for a number of year. That said, the whole lineup has struggled at times, so his continued problems at the plate didn’t help matters much. Hopefully, this will prove to be a turning point and not an aberration for the talented shortstop. And hopefully Happ keeps dealing like this all season too.
Player of the Game: J.A. Happ
Finishing one out shy of a complete game shutout while picking up another victory is going to get you the nod every time. While this was certainly his best performance of the year, Happ has been very good all season, allowing two earned runs of fewer in five of his seven starts, with his two “rougher outings” still registering as quality starts. Arrieta turned a successful half season into a Cy Young Award last year and continued excellence this season; it will be interesting to see if Happ can do the same in Toronto this year.
On Deck: The big dogs lock up in the series finale Wednesday afternoon as Toronto rolls out Marcus Stroman (4-0, 3.60) and the Giants counter with Madison Bumgarner (4-2, 3.14). It should be a fun afternoon affair in the Bay.