Could Hellickson Land Rotation Spot?

There is always a rule of thumb for Spring Training, don’t read too much into it.  I generally abide by that rule, especially when assessing players that are going to have a hard time making the roster.

SORRY! Jeremy Hellickson was nasty yesterday in his 2nd outing for the Rays.  He faced 4 batters, 4 batters walked back to the dugout after being struck out.  He’s faced 8 batters in 2 games, and struck out 6 of them, giving up only one hit, and allowing 0 ER and walking a grand total of zero batters.

We hypothesized a bit on this very site in the offseason, that it would be tough to leave Hellickson off the Major League Roster.  He has command of 4 pitches, the requisite velocity to be an upper level starting pitcher, and the command to go along with it.  Compare that to David Price, who still appears to only have two pitches in his arsenal, and it would seem like one would make a better fit in what could be the best bullpen in the league.

Let’s not forget that on the Rays run to the World Series, Price was dominant out of the bullpen, and was closing games for the Rays.  His two dominating pitches, his slider and his heater, are fitting for a pitcher out of the pen.  While the Rays picked up a bonafide closer in Rafael Soriano, he has plenty of injuries throughout his career to warrant concern.  If Price were moved to the pen, in a setup role, and a closers role if Soriano were to get hurt, it would alllow JP Howell, to stay in a setup role, where I personally feel he dominates/relishes and ultimately belongs.

For the Rays to give up on Price as a starter this early in his career after giving him 10 million dollars is probably unlikely, but with an ultimate goal of going for it all this year, because of the impending Free Agent status of both Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, this could be a move to give us the best possible chance to win now.

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Tags: David Price Jeremy Hellickson JP Howell Rafael Soriano

  • thadw

    My working theory is that they are “testing” him for the long-relief (i.e., Cormier replacement) role. Both appearances this spring he has entered in the middle of an inning with runners on to “stop” the bleeding. I think they know he’s ready and are creatively looking for a way to keep him on the Big Club or at least bring him up soon. The rotation is set for now, but the long-relief role would allow them to keep his IP manageable early. And maybe even work toward rotation spot in the summer should anyone else falter or get hurt.

  • Dustin Staggers

    While I agree if he makes the club, it will most likely be as a long reliever, spot starter, I don’t think when they have brought him in the games thusfar in the Spring has anything to do with it. But I do agree on the long relief and the IP premise that you made.

  • thadw

    We’ll see how it shakes out. May just be coincidence, but it seems a little odd to throw a kid into his FIRST big league action with runners on in the middle of an inning, without having some ulterior motive. And then to do it AGAIN. The next appearance will be interesting. If he is “Cormier-ed” again, then I may be on to something. Either way, I’m leaning in the direction that he belongs on the club in some role.

  • Dustin Staggers

    He certainly belongs on the club. As long as you’re right on that part, then I’ll be pleased!

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