Red Sox should worry about J.A. Happ landing with Yankees

BOSTON, MA - JULY 12: J.A. Happ #33 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the second inning at Fenway Park on July 12, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 12: J.A. Happ #33 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the second inning at Fenway Park on July 12, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox can’t be thrilled to see the New York Yankees acquire J.A. Hap from the Toronto Blue Jays given the lefty’s success against them.

The arms race continues between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Boston countered New York’s acquisition of reliever Zach Britton by trading for starter Nathan Eovaldi. Now the Yankees have fired back by dealing for a starting pitcher of their own.

According to FanCred’s Jon Heyman, left-hander J.A. Happ has been traded from the Toronto Blue Jays to the Yankees. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman also helped piece together various aspects of the deal, which includes infielder Brandon Drury and outfielder Billy McKinney heading north of the border in exchange for Happ.

The Yankees were in desperate need of rotation depth behind ace Luis Severino as the trade deadline approaches. The 38-year old CC Sabathia is somehow still getting it done but the Yankees have to be concerned about how he’ll hold up at his age. Masahiro Tanaka missed about a month with a hamstring injury and has been inconsistent when healthy. Sonny Gray has been a disaster, Domingo German was recently demoted to the minors and Jordan Montgomery has been lost for the season.

Adding a starter was a priority and the Yankees landed a pretty good one in Happ. His selection to the 2018 All-Star roster overstates his performance this year – someone had to make the team for the Blue Jays. Happ owns a 4.18 ERA this season and his 101 ERA+ indicates he’s been barely above-average.

However, above-average still represents an upgrade for the Yankees as their No. 3 starter in the postseason. Happ has also flashed a higher ceiling, posting a 128 ERA+ last season and 134 ERA+ the previous year when he won 20 games and garnered a few Cy  Young votes.

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Happ’s appeal gets a boost when you factor in his success against the Red Sox. He’s 7-4 with a 2.98 ERA in his career against Boston. Happ has faced the Red Sox twice this season, allowing only one earned run over 10 2/3 innings (0.84 ERA).

Recency bias would have you believe the Red Sox have Happ’s number. He lasted a mere 3 2/3 innings and gave up five runs the last time he faced them on July 12. None of those runs were earned though.

An error by Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis allowed Brock Holt to reach, while Xander Bogaerts made it safely to second on the botched fielder’s choice. That was followed by an infield single by Eduardo Nunez to load the bases. The inning would have ended on a Sandy Leon groundout had it not been for the earlier error. Instead, a run crossed the plate and the bases reloaded when Jackie Bradley Jr. walked.

We all remember what happened after that to end Happ’s outing. Mookie Betts battled the lefty for an epic 13-pitch at-bat that ended with a dramatic grand slam to send Happ to the showers.

Fans may look at that as Betts and the Red Sox beating up on Happ but the inning unraveled due to an error and infield single that are hardly his fault. He had to throw Betts a strike with the count full and the bases loaded. The 95 mph fastball low in the zone wasn’t even a bad pitch. Mookie is just really good!

Happ is generally good as well. His overall track record against the Red Sox is a reason for Boston to be concerned. New York and Boston face off 10 more times in the regular season. Happ could conceivably face the Red Sox three times, plus a potential postseason matchup.

There’s a decent chance that Happ ends up being the best starting pitcher moved at the deadline. He’s better than Eovaldi. New York also added Britton, potentially the best reliever dealt, while Boston is still looking for a bullpen upgrade.

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The Red Sox are leading the division but the Yankees are winning the trade deadline. Unless Dave Dombrowski has another move up his sleeve, New York’s deadline deals could be the deciding factor down the stretch.