Temper The Expectation: A Jeremy Hellickson Report


With all the comings and goings in the Tampa system this off-season the Rays find themselves under the proverbial microscope. One common antidote  that many people agree upon is the insertion of rookie starter Jeremy Hellickson.

With so much attention being given to the 4th round selection in the 2005 MLB Draft, it’s hard not to believe in the early hype. Some scouts have already drawn comparisons between “Hellboy” and David Cone.

Before you go casting your ballot for Jeremy Hellickson, AL Rookie of the Year, know this. Only once in the last 33 years has a starting pitcher won the ROY award. Andrew Bailey and Neftali Feliz were the last two recipients of the award, respectively. However, both as relief pitchers. It is much harder for a starter to enter the league and put up ROY-worth numbers. The last time it happened was 2006, and if you remember correctly Justin Verlander had some tough competition that year from Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano.

Here is a more likely scenario. Let’s look at the 2010 season for Baltimore Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz. Entering the 2010 season Matusz was about as highly touted at the position as they come. Enter the American League East.

Here’s a look at Brian Matusz and his season splits from first half to second half.

2010 Season Wins Loss ERA K WHIP Innings Pitched K/9 K/BB
1st Half 3 9 4.77 80 1.45 103.2 6.9 2.11
2nd Half 7 3 3.63 63 1.19 72.0 7.9 2.52

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The American League East is a brutal division for any pitcher, much less a 23-year-old rookie. To expect 17 wins from Hellickson in 2011, like the aforementioned Verlander, is a bit much. What we can realistically expect is a similar path as the one taken by Brian Matusz. Early season struggles, naysayers after every bad outing, constant second-guessing, but in the end a much improved  pitcher; made evident by the vast improvements over the second half of the season. What’s my prediction you ask? 12 W, 10 L, an ERA around 3.90, and 155 K over 170 IP.


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