While J.A. Happ’s(notes) resume can’t compare to that of the pitcher Philadelphia is reportedly trying to acquire before the July 31 trade deadline, the rookie left-hander has been a welcome addition to the Phillies’ rotation this season.
Amid growing speculation that the defending World Series champions are after Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay(notes), Happ takes the mound Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies open a three-game set with a St. Louis club trying to maintain its NL Central lead and with newly acquired Matt Holliday(notes) set to make his Cardinals debut.
In Sunday’s 5-0 win at Florida, Happ (7-0, 2.68 ERA) struck out four and scattered five hits over seven innings.
“He’s doing a tremendous job,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “We want the best rotation we possibly can get, and he’s definitely part of that.”
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., however, has not ruled out trading any prospects, especially with the possibility of landing Halladay, a former Cy Young Award winner with 142 career victories and 44 complete games.
“There are some people we would not trade and there are some people we would, and it’s all subject to change,” Amaro told the Phillies’ official Web site Thursday.
With 15 wins in their last 17 games, the Phillies (54-39) are working toward their third straight NL East title. Making up an April 20 rainout, Philadelphia defeated San Diego 9-4 on Thursday to push its division lead over Atlanta and Florida to 6 1/2 games.
Werth was 3 for 7 with two homers and six RBIs as the Phillies won a two-game set over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium from May 4-5 in the teams’ only matchup in 2009.
Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols(notes) went 1 for 8 with a home run in that series. The major league leader in homers (34) and RBIs (90) is batting .352 with nine home runs and 20 RBIs in 23 career games in Philadelphia.
St. Louis (52-46) could use another big game from its Triple Crown threat with its division lead currently 1 1/2 games. After losing three straight to NL Central rival Houston to open their seven-game trip, the Cardinals defeated Washington 4-1 on Thursday in a makeup game that was called due to rain in the seventh inning.
On Friday, the Cardinals pulled off a major trade to bolster their offense, acquiring Holliday from Oakland for a package of prospects. Holliday, who will start in left field and bat fourth, hit 11 homers in 93 games with the A’s after totaling 128 homers with Colorado from 2004-08.
“You look at the lineup card and it’s exciting,” St. Louis outfielder Ryan Ludwick(notes) said. “You take a hitter like him and it’s instant offense. A player of that caliber, it adds a lot of excitement. We’re in first. This will push us to get a lot more.”
In Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Arizona, he yielded one run and five hits over seven innings, and also provided the offense with a two-run double in the fourth inning.
“A lot of times, like today, we haven’t scored for him and he’s had some tough pitcher luck,” La Russa said.
Pineiro, who has won his last two outings, is 1-0 with a 2.33 ERA in three starts versus Philadelphia.
Philadelphia won two of three at home against St. Louis in 2008.