New York Yankees: Why J.A. Happ can be the dark knight for the Yankees in 2020

Alexander Wilson
New York Yankees, J.A. Happ
Sep 23, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees pitcher J.A. Happ (34) pitches in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

With the injury plague hitting the New York Yankees once again this off-season, they have begun to shift their hope in players that struggled or were absent in 2019. Options like Jordan Montgomery and JA Happ are both expected to play significant roles in the upcoming season, whenever that actually begins.

The MLB stated that Opening Day is at least eight weeks away and that the return date cannot be confirmed just yet. However, we can begin to evaluate the players on the roster and take a look at those that can rebound in 2020.

The New York Yankees need J.A. Happ to return to his former self:

The 37-year-old starter was atrocious in 2019, and he earned $17 million. He posted a 4.91 ERA with 140 strikeouts over 161.1 innings. Compared to his 2018 campaign, Happ saw a 1.30 increase in his ERA and allowed seven more home runs in 16 fewer innings. However, he has started off 2020 strong, posting a 1.38 ERA during spring training over 13 innings. He allowed just one home run and logged 16 strikeouts.

The Yankees desperately need him to return to his former self, especially with Luis Severino set to miss the entire 2020 campaign. Injuries have restricted the solidification of the starting rotation, but the pushback of Opening Day will give No. 2 starter James Paxton ample time to recover and hopefully be ready for the start of the regular season.

I anticipate Happ sliding in as the fourth man in the rotation, behind Gerrit Cole, Paxton, and Masahiro Tanaka. Ultimately, this unit is far more durable than the Yankees’ group in 2019, considering they added Cole, on a nine-year, $324 million contract.

Having a healthy Ace is extremely important, as they progressed in 2019 without Severino for a majority of the season. He will now miss an entire year after succumbing to Tommy John surgery, which will force players like Happ and Montgomery to take a more stable and significant role.

Last off-season, the Yankees refrain from using Happ at all, as he was inconsistent and a liability as a starter. This is his chance to make the most of the final year on his contract with the Bombers.