J.A. Happ took the mound for the Astros tonight in Pittsburgh, facing off against Charlie Morton. As was the case with most J.A. Happ starts, the Astros lost the game. In the first inning, Neil Walker hit a sacrifice fly to score Jose Tabata who led off with a triple. Andrew McCutchen would later drill a solo home run to right field to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead.
Jordan Schafer‘s RBI double, scoring Chris Snyder would cut the lead to 2-1 in the top of the fifth. In the bottom of the fifth, the Pirates came right back as Tabata launched a solo home run extending the lead to 3-1. Justin Maxwell would then knock in the last of the Astros runs in the 6th inning with a fielder’s choice scoring Jose Altuve. The Pirates would then plate two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning which would prove to be the winning runs.
Nights like this make you wonder just how much longer the Astros will stick with Happ. After tonight’s loss, Happ is now 2-3 with a 5.72 ERA on the year. He gave up 6H, 5R, 5ER, 1BB and 4K in 5IP. He also gave up two more home runs which has him leading the National League in home runs allowed. He simply provides zero upside and will likely never get much better than what he is now. With guys like Jordan Lyles, Aneury Rodriguez, Henry Sosa and Paul Clemens pitching well down at AAA, it just doesn’t make sense to keep trotting Happ out there every fifth start if you are truly trying to win games. Happ again threw too many pitches for the amount of innings he worked. Throwing five innings should not include throwing 96 pitches. Could any of those aforementioned pitchers down at AAA really be any worse than Happ has been since the start of the 2011 season? With the loss, Happ fell to 0-5 vs the Pirates in PNC Park.
There were some bright spots as well. Brandon Lyon, who is coming off a lost season due to shoulder surgery, pitched a scoreless eighth inning and has only allowed one earned run in his last ten appearances, which combine for a total of 10 IP. Jordan Schafer and Brian Bogusevic were both 2-4. J.D. Martinez was given another night off and is expected to start tomorrow afternoon when the Astros send Wandy Rodriguez to the mound vs A.J. Burnett for the series win.