Could Happ Help the Pen?

Thumbnail image for happ 0805.jpgJ.A. Happ
has been so good this season that he could win National League Rookie of the Year.

But as good as he has been in the rotation, he could be in the bullpen in the postseason. In fact, he could be pitching in some big spots in some big games.

“Happ really has improved as the season has gone on,” Charlie Manuel said after the game. “I like Happ as a starter. I always have. But at the same time, I also see the way our pitching looks. There would be a chance that he could wind up in the back end of our bullpen if we don’t get some things straightened out and (J.C.) Romero doesn’t come back or something. I’m not going to say we’re going to do that, but we’re going to talk about it if we don’t have any lefties.”

Asked if he could see Happ as a ninth-inning guy, Manuel said, “Yeah, probably. You know one of the big things about Happ is? He’s not afraid to throw his secondary pitches. He’s really improved a whole lot. He’s still got a little ways to go yet, but he has really improved as the season goes along.”

And those improvements translate into him being able to shut down a team for an inning?

“Yeah, I think he could do that,” Manuel said. “And I think his experience that he has in the last couple years can allow him to do that, too. He throws strikes, and he definitely is not scared. I’ll talk about that. I don’t know exactly how we set up yet. If we get J.C. Romero back or something … I like Happ as a starter. I always have. He’s got a big future.”

So Happ, who has gone from bullpen to rotation to hot topic of conversation in Roy Halladay trade rumors, could be headed back to the bullpen if the bullpen doesn’t get healthy fast.

“I’m not looking that far ahead,” Happ said. “I have two starts left and I feel I can help us that way. But I want to help us, period. Whatever way that is, that’s what it is.”


Ryan Howard‘s two RBIs pulled him into a first-place tie with Prince Fielder for the Major League-lead with 132.


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I would like to see Happ in the closer role before the season ends to see what he has. I like his poise and I don’t think he would get frazzled. He’s already had a roller coaster of a season so I think he is numb to any big jump. Is it a lot of pressure to put on him? Sure. But the Cardinals did it with Wainwright and they won it all. Amaro, Jr.’s comments about Lidge came through loud and clear yesterday. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Lidge is left off the playoff roster. In fact I could see Moyer taking his spot with the lefty situation the way it is.

Happ/Walker might be an interesting tandem. Happ has been very impressive this season with his poise, pitch selections. It would be nice to see him in the closer role before the end of the season if possible.

Our offense last night played a classic game. Some small ball (how about Howard’s small ball ability of late—-those RBI doubles are becoming a part of repetiore) and the long ball. RAUUL must have eaten the same thing as Shane. Werth better watch out seems to be contagious in the outfield.

Nice to see some folks in the stands last night despite the fact that the Brew Crew is not in playoff contention this season. Obviously it being Todd Z’s hometown has something to do with it……good baseball folks🙂

Todd, I see you cleaned up Charlie’s grammar, but an AP story using the same quote did not. What’s your position on that?

The Phillies are going to have to have more games like last night if they are going to have post season success. But I don’t see that happening against some of the pitching staffs they will see. The Cardinals and Rockies are deep with starters and, while the Dodgers don’t have great starting pitching, the back end of their bullpen is set up to beat the Phillies with Kuo and Sherrill on board.

Starters? 9 innings, guys. That’s what we’ll need.

I wonder if the Phillies’ brass have considered a radically different approach for the postseason. Instead using three or four relievers for an inning each after the starter is removed, they could use a displaced starter to pitch 3-4 innings to “close” the game. Kendrick, Moyer, Happ, Martinez or whichever starters are not needed in the playoffs could serve in that capacity. They could certainly not pitch every day or even every other day, but if the starters go 6-7 innings for the most part, they could possibly not be needed more than every 3-4 days. Certainly, Moyer proved that this approach could work on the days he filled in for Pedro following the rain delays.

kierenmcd: I’ve noticed the Inquirer doing that too. It’s probably to make it more “readable.” You can’t have all of those ‘you know like’s’ and other things in there. I’d guess that it’s all about conveying the message rather than being a word-for-word record.

I agree that a “radical” solution for the bullpen woes is called for. It’s not really radical because the whole setup/closer thing hasn’t been dogma in baseball for that long, but of course it seems radical because no one’s doing it.

Obviously Lidge should not be on the postseason roster. I’m eternally grateful (along with the entire city of Philadelphia I hope) for his performance in 2008. But as good as he was last year, he’s been that bad this year. He’s truly had one of the worst pitching seasons in MLB history (as Todd has pointed out) and certainly the worst season ever for a closer. I will be disappointed in Charlie if he lets Lidge pitch in a meaningful situation in the postseason.

So what to do? I think a “closer-by-committee” is the obvious choice. They should go strictly by matchups in late-innings. I think having a dedicated closer is a stupid idea that never made a lot of sense. You use your best pitchers in the most meaningful situations. 3-4-5 hitters coming up in the 7th in a one-run game? Use your best pitcher! Seems obvious.

If Charlie needs to have a “closer” Happ should be strongly considered. He has a been a great first inning pitcher this year (3 runs in 21 innings, opponents batting .189 against him) while Pedro has not.


ReclinerGM makes the argument that Happ is our “only” option for closer in the playoffs

Well Happ has been our best starting pitcher this year, next to Lee. As much of a mess that the bullpen is however, I think happ needs to remain a starter. I think that the Phillies should use Walker in the closer role. Walker has a 2.03 era this year as a phillie. I think for the postseason, Happ , Hamels, Lee and Blanton should be used as the starters and the rest should be used in a long (3-4 inning) of relief as the “closer”. Lidge sure hasn’t done the job this year (10 blown saves with an ERA of 7.48 and a record of 0 and 8).

zach58: It’s a Hell of a lot different pitching the first inning when you figure on pitching 7 or 8 more than it is pitching one inning when it’s the last.
I don’t really need to explain that psychology do I?

I’m not totally opposed to Happ pitching in the bullpen for the playoffs, I really think he could help us out there because it is where we need to most help. This guy has proven that he can do whatever the Phillies need him to. Now, if Pedro isn’t ready to go for the playoffs or if he struggles in the playoffs then I want Happ starting, no doubt

psalves: I guess that’s why “Recliner GM” is in a chair at home and the real GMs are at ballparks across America.

From what I’ve heard on Sports Center, the Dodgers won’t be playing Colorado/San Fran in the first round because they’re in the same division, which is unfair for the Dodgers (the top team in the NL) not to be able to face the worst of the teams making it into the playoffs. This means that the Phils don’t have to face the Cards in the first round regardless of how the season ends. That is great news if it’s true. Let’s face it, starting the playoffs either at home against the Rockies (no pitching)/Giants (Cain struggling) or in LA against the Dodgers (No clear 1-2 punch) is infinitely more appealing than facing the Cards (Carpeter/Wainwright/Piniero) anywhere, although the Dodgers offense has been on a roll recently..

muleman: psychology aside, my point is that he doesn’t need to “get loose” or “settle in” like some starters, he’s great out of the gate. whether he has the cojones to be a closer, we won’t know until he gets a chance, but he’s certainly pitched well in pressure situations this year with risp.

erichh1: That’s right, b/c the Dodgers can’t play the Rockies/Giants in the first round, Phils can’t face the Cards in the first round. If the Phils finish with a better record than the Cards, they’ll get the Rockies, if they finish with a worse record than the Cards, they’ll get the Dodgers. Definitely agree that it’s to their advantage. Glad to see the Giants are fading out of contention as well.

C’mon zach, being a closer is 90% mental. Ask Mitch Williams. Lots of guys have great stuff but not all of them are good enough to get the last 3 outs of a game.
All of those “pressure situations” Happ pitched in came with a few innings left in the game. It ain’t that easy.

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