Time may be running out on Happ and Harrell
The Astros have done remarkably well so far this season but that doesn’t mean everyone is having fun. The rotation has two horses in Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris but after that, it gets dicey. We are looking at you J.A. Happ and Lucas Harrell. Kyle Weiland you get a pass with your injury and age. Happ is no longer a prospect and Harrell really never was one, both were expected to anchor the back end of the staff but have simply been bad. Happ will give you a good start mixed in between three or four terrible ones while Harrell has looked pretty bad since a great opening start. If these guys were prospects then a simple trip to Oklahoma City might do it but both have been around, especially in Happ’s case. An ERA of 5.72 won’t get it done, neither would an ERA of 4.58, so something has to be done and with live arms in Oklahoma City it could happen soon.
Since the start of the 2011 season, minus a few weeks in September, Happ has been pretty much a disaster. Lets be honest, we saw him pitch after the Roy Oswalt deal and thought he could be more than just a back of the rotation guy. It’s pretty clear we were wrong and now he might not even be a major league starting pitcher. I would love to see him turn it around, create enough value to be able to move him for something. Reality is that Happ’s value is shot and he certainly isn’t bullpen material so what do the Stros do with him? Harrell didn’t have the expectations that Happ carried but was counted on to help the staff, essentially Livan Hernandez was cut because they thought Harrell could be that guy. The hope was that the Stros had found something the White Sox had missed on the 26 year old. It appears Harrell does have value but he, unlike Happ, looks made for the bullpen, not unlike our old friends Brian Moehler and Nelson Figueroa.
Let’s say the Stros decide enough is enough and decide to move on from Happ and place Harrell in the bullpen, who could take their spots? The obvious choice is Jordan Lyles for one of the spots. He made an impressive return to the big league staff a few weeks backs and seems as ready as ever. The other spot could go to either Paul Clemens or Dallas Keuchel even Aneury Rodriguez could earn a spot after his strong start this week. So plenty of options exist with Keuchel having the best of those three guys. Clemens has the most electric stuff but Keuchel seems to have mastered AAA in impressive fashion without the killer stuff that Paul has. Eventually, I would love to see the trio of Lyles, Clemens and Keuchel all at the major league level this season and I assume I’ll get my wish in August.
So it appears time is running out on a couple of our friends but what else can the Astros do at this point? These guys aren’t prospects and certainly have gotten enough time to turn things around, more so in Happ’s case. So change is coming for the Stros rotation and new faces will begin to pop up more and more as the season progresses.