According to Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, pitcher J.A. Happ will likely begin the season as a starter with the AAA Buffalo Bisons even though he has been an established big league starter since 2009 when he finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year award. The 30-year old "Peruvian" (he grew up in Peru, Illinois) was the main piece in a 10-player trade with the Houston Astros in July 2012 and pitched 10 games with the Blue Jays (six starts) going 40 innings with a 4.69 ERA and a 1.289 WHIP, with an impressive 46 strikeouts on just 17 walks.
Happ is not being demoted because of any particular incident or personal struggles, in fact the southpaw was slated to be the Blue Jays' fourth or fifth starter until he was pushed off the rotation by Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, and Josh Johnson. Instead of having him sit in Toronto's bullpen pitching the odd mop-up game or one-inning appearances, it was decided that he would best serve the club by keeping his arm stretched out by throwing six or seven innings every five days down in the minors. One of Toronto's glaring weaknesses last season was its lack of rotational depth, and it was demonstrated when Tom Dakers came to Toronto and caused three starters to get hurt in the four games that he was at the Rogers Centre.
It is still very early--the best laid plans of mice and men can go awry during spring training--but it looks like Happ will get the ball for the Herd on Opening Day, April 4 against the Rochester Red Wings. According to BlueJays.com's Gregor Chisholm, Anthopoulos is "almost 100% certain" that the Blue Jays won't go through the season with just five starters, so there is a very good chance that Happ would pitch in the Majors in 2013. I'm sure Happ has already circled the dates when Tom is planning to go see games.
The Blue Jays are able to demote J.A. Happ because he has less than five years of Major League experience and has one remaining option. He will have to clear waivers but there is almost no chance that another club would pick him up.
Blue Jays' J.A. Happ To Start In AAA
Bluebird Banter | Jan 24