Analysis

Can The Yankees Trust J.A. Happ In The Playoffs?

New York Yankees SP J.A. Happ has struggled for the majority of 2019 but has shown some life lately. Can he be trusted come playoff time?

The New York Yankees are preparing for the playoffs with just under a month left in the 2019 season. With the best record in baseball entering Sunday, they must begin looking at who to trust in October. Is J.A. Happ a pitcher they can trust in the playoffs?

As it stands in early September, most Yankees fans likely wouldn’t place Happ in the top three of a playoff rotation. Those spots most likely reside with Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and either Domingo German or Luis Severino. There is no debating Happ hasn’t been a model of consistency, but there is hope he can enter the conversation for the playoff roster.

Though it’s a small sample size, Happ has looked encouragingly better over his last two starts. Against the Oakland Athletics on Sept. 1, he went 6.0 innings pitched while allowing no runs on one hit while striking out five. The four walks in that outing are a concern, but he was solid when it was all said and done.

Then on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park, Happ continued his career success against the Red Sox. He vaulted the Bronx Bombers to a 5-1 win. In what was possibly his best outing of the season, Happ went 6.1 innings allowing two hits, no runs and just one walk. It was an encouraging outing that featured the 2018 Happ—something that has been missing for the majority of the season.

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The Yankees will have limited spots on the postseason roster, which means Happ could be an odd man out. This is especially true when considering the addition of Luis Severino, who is currently going through a rehab stint in the minor leagues.

Happ’s season-long resume for a role on the staff during the playoffs doesn’t hold water. He’s been far too volatile. His biggest area of weakness has been home runs. His career line shows he’s always been a pitcher that has allowed the long ball, but 2019 is different. He’s already allowed 32 home runs on the year—the most of his career. Few things swing momentum like a home run in the playoffs.

The Yankees sit comfortably with the best record in baseball, with Houston Astros right behind them. They need to figure out who their best starters are for the month of October.

Can Happ be trusted right now with a playoff roster spot? Probably not. But he’s making a case for a role in the postseason, and it will certainly be a storyline to watch over the next few weeks if he continues to pitch well.

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