In today's paper, we talked with lefthander J.A. Happ and pitching coach Rich Dubee about the young starter's off-speed stuff, which he continues to develop.
Only seven NL starters threw their fastball more often than Happ did last season.
Here is that list, ranked by percentage of pitches that were fastballs:
Mike Pelfrey, NYM: 78.3
Rick Porcello, DET: 77.1
Jeff Niemann, TB: 71.9
Clayton Kershaw, LAD: 71.7
Matt Garza, TB: 71.1
Brad Penny, SFG: 71.1
Max Scherzer, ARI: 71.0
Joel Piniero, STL: 71.0
J.A. Happ, PHI: 69.9
Trevor Cahill, OAK: 69.3
Josh Johnson, FLA: 68.4
Aaron Harang, CIN: 68.1
Justin Verlander, DET: 67.8
Derek Lowe, 67.7
As you see, Happ is something of an anomaly, because most of the rest of the pitchers who rely on their fastball as frequently are either sinker-ballers or flame-throwers. Happ is neither.
Looking down at the field from the press box is like looking at a high school reunion of sorts as former Phillies now on the Astros interact with current Phillies who were once teammates. Righthander Brett Myers is exchanging hugs and handshakes. Former third baseman Pedro Feliz is chatting with current coach Jesus Tiamo. Michael Bourn has already exchanged greetings with Milt Thompson. Even righthander Gary Majewski, who spent all of spring training with the team before playing the year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, is hanging around.
Myers, of course, is the highlight of the day. He's had an up-and-down spring, but the Astros expect him to establish himself as an important part of their rotation. I'll be interested to hear impressions of him from manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee. We haven't seen a healthy Myers in quite some time.
Myers will be squaring off against righthander Kyle Kendrick, who is likely headed for a spot as a long reliever but still is competing with Jamie Moyer for a job as the Phillies' No. 5 starter.
First baseman Ryan Howard has the day off, while righthander Roy Halladay is pitching in a minor league game against the Yankees in Tampa.