Analysis

Yankees: Making The Case For J.A. Happ To Start The Wild Card Game

If the AL Wild Card game were tomorrow, could one make the case that J.A. Happ should take the ball? It could be a very plausible argument.

Since coming over to the Bronx in a July 26 trade with the Blue Jays, the 35-year-old has pitched to a 2.22 ERA in 24 ⅓ innings, while winning all four of his starts with his new club. And in his latest outing on Sunday, Happ tossed 5 ⅓ frames of two-run ball to earn his 14th win of the 2018 campaign.

“He goes out there with a real sharp gameplan” Manager Aaron Boone said of Happ. “[He] pitches with a lot of confidence”

Luis Severino, who would be the obvious choice through June to get the nod, has seen his season spiral downhill with an inflated 7.25 ERA in his last seven outings. Happ, on the other hand, has pitched to a healthy 3.28 in his past seven.

Happ has thrown 19 ⅓ career postseason innings, posting a 3.72 ERA in those ten games, including 2 ⅔ World Series frames in 2009. Most recently, he pitched to a 2.70 ERA in two starts with the Blue Jays in the 2016 ALDS and ALCS, going 1-1 in those outings.

In terms of keeping his composure in big games, the Yankees can rely on his veteran presence and experience in pitching big games.

“That’s why we got him. He knows how to pitch, he’s been in situations before where he’s got to pitch well” Austin Romine on Happ’s debut in pinstripes.

Not to mention Luis Severino’s performance in last year’s Wild Card game where he couldn’t get out of the first inning. Whether that was due to nerves or being too hyped up, it’s still a cause for concern going into this year’s contest.

Factoring in the hot-hand in Happ along with his lengthy resume, it’s quite reasonable to assume he may be getting the ball to try and advance the Yankees to the ALDS on Oct. 3. However, there certainly is still a surplus of time left for the 24-year-old Severino to right the ship for the postseason within the next month or so. Only time will tell.

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