Ever since he broke in with the Phillies a decade ago, J.A. Happ has relied on rhythm and precision to carve up hitters. During his best seasons, Happ's results have outpaced the quality of his actual repertoire.
In order to achieve this, Happ relies on the subtleties of confidence and controlled aggression. When he's on, he works quickly, pounds the edges of the strike zone, and tricks himself into being unafraid that the ball might drift out over the middle of the strike zone and end up crushed over an outfield wall. He's one of those players who's good because he believes he's good.
So far this season, Happ has not been able to find that mindset. He is overthinking between pitches, and finding the ideal pace elusive. He is tentative and cerebral -- two qualities that undermine him when they emerge too strongly.