J.A. Happ continues to struggle; optioned down to Triple-A

It seems like the only way to stop J.A. Happ from extending his major league leading loss total was to option him down to Triple-A, which the Astros did today. This season has not gone as hoped, or planned, for the lefty who was the main piece coming over to the Astros last season in the Roy Oswalt trade.

This season Happ sports a 4-14 record with an ERA of 6.26, the highest in the National League. This is a far stretch from his 14-5 record before coming over to the Astros last summer. Opposing teams are hitting an unbelievable .290 against him this year, compared to .232 in 2010 with the Phillies.

This was probably the best move for Happ as long as it takes the right approach to the move. If he goes in thinking that he needs to work on his mechanics and control, and in the process regain some of his confidence, he will be back with the Astros in no time. If this shakes the little confidence he has left right now, then it will be a long road back.

Teams will do this all the time sending younger pitchers down to work things out and generally they have come back strong. Max Schezer of the Detroit Tigers comes to mind, who struggled in 2010 but really finished the year strong.

The Astros have not announced yet who will take over Happ’s spot in the rotation as they have a couple of days since he pitched last night. It seems like the favorite is Aneury Rodriguez, who is currently working out of the bullpen.

There are also some young arms who could get a shot including Lucas Harrell, who was a waiver pick up from the White Sox, and Henry Sosa, who came over in the Jeff Keppinger trade. Harrell is 9-4 this season between the two organizations with a 2.98 ERA. Sosa had a solid first start with Oklahoma City going seven innings, giving up five hits and no runs.

Personally I would like to see one of these two guys get the nod over Rodriguez, who already had a shot this season at the rotation and just didn’t produce.

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