Park or Happ?
First, the Phillies pursued Park in the offseason because they liked him as a relief pitcher. He went 4-4 with a 3.40 ERA in 54 appearances last season for the Dodgers, and they thought those numbers would add depth to an already strong bullpen. Second, Happ has been a starter most of his career and pitched well in September in that role. If Happ could prove himself this spring, the Phillies might be better served with Happ in the rotation and Park in the ‘pen.
But Rich Dubee said at the beginning of Spring Training that the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation would be based on performance.
Who can get pepole out?
So now I’m not sure what to think. Park is 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA in 21 1/3 innings in the Grapefruit League, while Happ is 0-0 with a 3.15 ERA in 20 innings. The difference there is only one earned run and 1 1/3 innings pitched. But Park has allowed just two walks and struck out 25, while Happ has walked six and struck out 14. If this competition is based purely on Grapefruit League performance, it would seem Park has an edge entering Happ’s final start of the spring Thursday.
And that’s where things really get interesting.
Asked if he would be open to accepting a bullpen job, Park said today, “I don’t know, let’s see. Wait, wait, wait, wait. Sometimes I’m crazy.”
He also said, “I’m expecting their decision to make me as the starter. That’s my goal. That’s why I signed with this team.”
He signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract because the Phillies promised him an opportunity to start. Based purely on the numbers, he can make an argument that he won this competition. So if the Phillies tell him that they need him in the bullpen more than the rotation? Based on his comments today, he could feel cheated.
So, we’ll see. I thought I had a good feel for how this competion would be resolved, but now I’m not sure.