Is Happ the NL Rookie of the Year?

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After tossing seven innings of
one-run ball in a 4-1 win over the Mets on Saturday night, J.A. Happ
improved to 10-2 with a 2.59 ERA (4th in the NL) and 1.17 WHIP (10th).
He has the lowest earned run average by rookie pitcher since Hideo
Nomo’s 2.59 ERA mark in 1995. Even more impressive,
Todd Zolecki of MLB.com found
that only 10 rookie pitchers in the past 50 years have finished the
season with an ERA lower than the 26-year-old southpaw. From a
franchise perspective, the last Phillies rookie have an ERA lower than
Happ’s was Eppa Rixley (2.50) in 1912.




Now, it must be pointed out that has
gotten a bit lucky behind a .225 batting average against aided by a
.251 BABIP. He has held the opposition to a .125 clip with runners in
scoring position, resulting in a stingy 85.7% strand rate (nearly 16
points above the league average). Naturally, it’s no surprise to see
his FIP sitting at 4.15. But while the one-time ROY favorite Colby
Rasmus has faded over the last two months (.230 with six homers and 13
RBI), Happ has pitched his best ball of the year (5-2 with a 2.20 ERA
over his last 10 starts).




Here’s a quick look at the top National League rookies (batters & pitchers) according to VORP:



1. J.A. Happ (PHI) – 44.9

2. Randy Wells (CHC) – 32.4

3. Dexter Fowler (COL) – 22.6

4. Tommy Hanson (ATL) – 22.6

5. Garrett Jones (PIT) – 22.5

6. Andrew McCutchen (PIT) – 20.2

7. Seth Smith (COL) – 20.1

8. Brian Sanches (FLA) – 18.5

9. Everth Cabrera (SD) – 17.9

10. Casey McGehee (MIL) – 17.7



Wells (9-6, 2.84 ERA) is easily
Happ’s biggest competition at this point, and certainly deserves
consideration regardless of whether the Cubs make the playoffs, but if
the Phillies lock down another NL East crown, I just can’t see the
Rookie of the Year award going to anybody else.




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Dallas Keuchel could make season debut on Friday vs. Nationals

Dallas Keuchel
Bob Levey/Getty Images
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Braves manager Brian Snitker is hoping recently-signed starter Dallas Keuchel will make his season debut on Friday when the Braves open a 10-game road trip with a three-game set against the Nationals, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. For now, the Braves have not officially named a starter for Friday.

After spending seven months as a free agent, Keuchel finally inked a one-year, $13 million contract with the Braves on June 6. He tossed seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts in his first start with Single-A Rome, then gave up three runs on 11 hits across seven innings for Double-A Mississippi on Saturday.

Last year, his final season with the Astros, Keuchel went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA and a 153/58 K/BB ratio in 204 2/3 innings. The 31-year-old supposedly worried prospective teams due to his declining strikeout rate.

Keuchel is hoping to continue the Braves’ momentum, as the club has won 9 of its last 10 games and is 12-3 overall in June thus far, building up a 2.5-game lead over the Phillies in the NL East.