The Pittsburgh Pirates are taking advantage of a few off-days, and are skipping J.A. Happ in the rotation in his next turn against St. Louis. Happ will be available out of the bullpen this weekend.
Pete Ellis will have more in a bit from PNC Park. As for Happ, I just wrote about how he looks like a reclamation project on the fly, and how this approach is risky, as reclamation projects can often take some time to show improvements. It will be interesting to see if the Pirates (Ray Searage) spend time with Happ during his time away from the rotation to work with him on whatever changes they plan on making. Check the article above for more about how Happ follows the same model the Pirates have been using the last few years. We’ll have more updates on Happ being skipped shortly.
UPDATE 4:28 PM: From Pete Ellis at PNC Park…
According to Clint Hurdle, the scheduled starters for the St. Louis series beginning Tueday night will be Jeff Locke on Tuesday, Gerrit Cole on Wednesday, and Francisco Liriano on Thursday. The Pirates have yet to decide where or when they will fit Happ back into the rotation after the Cardinals series, although Happ will be available out of the bullpen throughout the weekend. This will give Hurdle even more flexibility with his bullpen with three lefties available.
Hurdle believes that Happ will have an opportunity to work with Ray Searage over the next week, but there doesn’t appear to be any major overhauls needed with his mechanics.
“They’ll do some side work from time to time and I think Ray and him have already touched upon what’s important and what we need to do to help him be the consistent pitcher that he showed in the first half,” Hurdle said. “It’s really not about fixing him. I think it’s more about fine-tuning some things.”
Happ had a 3.88 xFIP in the first half, but has really struggled in the second half. His 8.31 ERA in the second half is among the worst in the National League, and his xFIP jumped to 4.64.