Jeremy Hellickson has become one of Rays most popular players, but no one is sure if he will even be with the club next season. There are three possible scenarios for the Rays young ace pitcher, one of which has him back in Durham!
Possibility 1 – Hellickson joins the starting rotation
This is what everyone is dreaming about, Hellickson joining one of the best starting rotations in the league. The Rays are talking about trading either Matt Garza or James Shields, so there would be need for a 5th starter. Even if the Rays didn’t move Garza/Shields, Hellickson has proven himself in his few starts that he is much more consistent than Shields. Hellickson would move down to the 5th spot in the rotation after Wade Davis and would add an incredible punch at the bottom of the rotation.
Possibility 2 – Hellickson stays in the bullpen
This is a bad idea, but Maddon did put Hellickson in the bullpen when the Rays recalled him in September. Hellickson struggled out of the pen, giving up multiple homeruns after dominating as a starter. Hellickson is a starter and has a particular warm up routine. He is not able to get the same amount of work in out of the bullpen on limited pitches and starting off cold. This was a bad fit for a pitcher that needs time to warm up and use breaking pitches.
Possibility 3 – Back to Durham
This is by far the worst case scenario. If the Rays don’t move Shields/Garza, there is the outside chance they don’t have the room in the rotation or bullpen to keep Hellickson and send him down to Durham to begin the season. Now they will most likely call him up at some point either due to injuries or simply because he is better than Shields, but keeping him down there early is a bad idea. Hellickson is ready for the big time, so the Rays simply need to let him pitch.