There has not been a lot of certainty for the Blue Jays this season, but the one constant continues to be veteran left-hander J.A. Happ.
Happ had yet another solid outing on Wednesday afternoon, as he limited the Braves to four runs on six hits over 8 1/3 innings in a 5-4 victory at Rogers Centre. The 35-year-old became the first Blue Jays starter to work into the ninth this season, and he also became the first pitcher in the Majors this season to pick up four starts with at least eight strikeouts and zero walks.
With every start that he makes, Happ appears to be increasing his trade value. He's expected to be one of the top starters available prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, and while the Blue Jays have yet to confirm any discussions about a possible relocation, it seems inevitable that Happ will be moved at some point in the coming weeks.
"I know he's in demand, and I can see why," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "If we were on the other end of it, I'd want him, too. That's the reality of the business. Who knows what happens, but I'm sure he's probably going to be at the top of the list out there for guys who could be acquired. Maybe, I don't know. I try not to look at those kinds of things. All I know is that he has done a lot for this organization, he really turned into one of the better pitchers in the game."
Wednesday's line for Happ would have looked even better if two of his runners hadn't been allowed to score after he left the game. But the way he has been pitching should put the Blue Jays in a prime position to take advantage of a seller's market. Happ entered play on Wednesday ranked 13th in the American League with 94 strikeouts, and he picked up eight more in the series finale against Atlanta. He remains unbeaten over his past seven outings, and he has a 2.35 ERA over that span.
Happ only made a few mistakes in his latest outing, yielding solo home runs by Kurt Suzuki and Peter Bourjos in the second and third innings. Outside of those big flies, the Braves managed to put just one runner in scoring position against Happ through the first eight innings. Happ left the field to a standing ovation in the ninth as fans clearly recognized there might not be too many of his starts left at Rogers Centre.
Gregor Chisholm MLB.com