“It’s pretty clear,” New York Yankees‘ J.A. Happ said regarding the organization utilizing him less to stray from committing to a 2021 contract trigger.
If you haven’t noticed, Happ has been seeing less and less playing time as the season goes on. While he believes it is due to the 2021 trigger that would occur if he starts in 10 games or reaches 61 1/3 innings, it is primarily due to the fact that he is a struggling arm in a questionable starting rotation.
Happ stated that to his “understanding it won’t be until Saturday (his next start).”
“You guys [in the media] are pretty smart. It doesn’t take too much to figure out, sort of, what could be going on.”
It is clear that Happ is frustrated with how the Yankees are going about a potential future contract that would pay him $17 million. The vesting option for next season would put the Yankees in a bind. It’s money they could utilize to sign a quality starting pitcher, rather than one that hasn’t been able to pitch sub 4.91 ERA baseball in two years. In fact, his 4.91 ERA in 2019 showed the Yankees why he can’t be relied upon in the starting rotation.
So far this season over 12.2 innings, he has a 6.39 ERA with nine runs allowed and four homers. He has struck out six batters and walked 10. At 37 years old, it seems that his best years are behind him, despite having a career 4.01 ERA that has been tainted by the last two seasons in the Bronx.
The Yankees seemingly cannot rely on him as a starter in the rotation if they want to win games in an abbreviated campaign, rather than a secret ploy to work around his vesting option, which I am 100% sure they do not want to pay.
Now, it comes down to the best probability of winning. Happ will undoubtedly file a grievance against the Yankees for his lack of playing time, but considering they have Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, and Jordan Montgomery readily available, starting Happ would be malpractice.
Here is manager Aaron Boone’s response to the rotation being changed up:
“After a four-day break, we reshuffled to prioritize getting Gerrit going and [Tanaka] after him, then the off day and then [Montgomery] and J.A.,’’ Boone said. “There’s a chance we even pitch Gerrit and [Tanaka] on the sixth day out of this. … With only four starters right now, you’re gonna need to make up those slots.”
Based on his answer, it seems as if Boone simply wants to win. After having several days off, Boone is ready to go with Cole, Tanaka, and Montgomery. With James Paxton being placed on injured reserve, I would be surprised if he didn’t call up another starter from their taxi squad. Clarke Schmidt, Michael King, and Deivi García represent options to call upon. However, Boone is coming dangerously close to having to rely on Happ without an explanation or justification for passing over him.