J.A. Happ is thriving with the Pirates

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While the move largely went ignored amid perhaps the craziest trade deadline ever, the Pirates’ acquisition of J.A. Happ continues to pay off big.

Happ struck out eight batters and allowed just three hits and no walks over seven scoreless innings last night in a 4-1 victory over the first-place Cardinals. The southpaw gave up four runs over 4 1/3 innings in his first start with Pittsburgh on August 4 before getting an extended break. He has posted a 0.60 ERA in five starts since and hasn’t allowed more than one earned run in any of them. His secondary numbers back up his success, as he has a 26/5 K/BB ratio in 30 innings during that span.

Happ actually got off to a strong start this year with the Mariners before hitting a rough patch. According to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the southpaw said that the focus has been on getting him back to what made him successful in the past.

“I felt like as we broke this year I felt real good about kind of where I was at overall,” Happ said. “Over time things change slowly. You maybe form a bad habit or two. So it’s just trying to get back to that kind of pitcher.”

Returning to the National League for a team in a playoff race has surely helped matters, but we could be looking at the next major success story for Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage.

Giants sign Drew Smyly to one-year deal

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The Giants announced on Thursday that the club inked pitcher Drew Smyly to a one-year contract. As Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area notes, the contract is of the major league variety.

Smyly, 30, split last season between the Rangers and Phillies with a stint with the Brewers in between. He did not appear in a major league game with the Brewers. In aggregate, Smyly posted a 6.24 ERA with 120 strikeouts and 55 walks over 114 innings.

Smyly will vie for a spot at the back of the Giants’ starting rotation. If he doesn’t make the cut, he could work out of the bullpen. Pitching in the spacious confines of Oracle Park should help Smyly, who gave up 19 homers in Texas and 13 in Philly last season in more hitter-friendly parks.