The Yankees have signed left-handed starter J.A. Happ on a two-year deal to bring him back to the Bronx and he is just what they needed.
The New York Yankees are have been in search mode since the beginning of the offseason. GM Brian Cashman has bee clear about his pursuit of “Elite” starting pitching and following the trade acquisition of James Paxton, it was believed that Patrick Corbin was a foregone conclusion for the rotation. However, $140 million later Corbin is a Washington National. Thus tides turned to J.A. Happ and we will look at three reasons why the Yankees needed to sign Happ.
1. Consistent Performer
J.A. Happ has been a model of consistent performance for the majority of his career. When looking at Happ’s Baseball Reference page and look at Happ’s 152 game averages, Happ gives you 32 games started average for his career. Happ number’s according to baseballreference.com’s predictions have him falling inline once again with those career numbers. And with a pitcher like Happ keeping the team in the game into the 5th, 6th, or 7th innings the Yankees will always have a chance to win during his starts.
2. Lefty in the Bronx Zoo
While some may not see this as an important aspect adding another left-handed starter aids the Yankees rotation tremendously. Having three of five starters being left handed is geared towards Yankee Stadium in a quietly powerful way.
For example, if a team has multiple lefty bats or even switch hitters a lefty starter keeps the ball away from them and gears their sights more towards the death valley left-center field area. Where a righty starter must make hit his spots or suffer a “Yankee Stadium” home run. The other underrated aspect of bringing in a guy like J.A. Happ and pairing him with James Paxton and CC Sabathia is that all three lefties give you a different look at the plate.
One must understand the fact that the Yankees are looking for a number four behind Luis Severino, James Paxton, and Masahiro Tanaka. J.A. Happ fits this slot perfectly. Allowing the team to balance the starting rotation with the top four guys splitting righty and lefty.
3. Proven Commodity in the AL East
Some divisions try to lay claim to the title of “Toughest Division in Baseball” but they all fail in comparison to the AL East. The American League East is the toughest division and that was evident last season when the third seat Tampa Bay Rays won more 90 games.
Happ has pitched in the AL East and pitched well. Happ has pitched to the tune of an ERA of under 3.59 in four of the five AL East parks. Bringing Happ into the Yankees rotation they can reassure the “Bright lights of the Big City” won’t shine too bright for him as they did with Sonny Gray.