At the start of the year, it was hoped that Jeremy Hellickson would be the pitcher to step up and take over the role vacated by the trade of James Shields. He certainly had the most impressive resume of the candidates heading into the season, with a Rookie of the Year and a Gold Glove award already upon his mantle.
However, Hellickson had struggled early on, with a 4-3 record and a 5.67 ERA through June 13th. While some regression was likely (Hellickson had a FIP of approximately 1.50 more than his ERA in each of the last two seasons) it was not anticipated that his fortunes would swing so heavily in the opposite direction. The strangest part about this regression is that Hellickson had actually been producing some of his best rates of his career. It seemed to be a matter of time before he righted himself.
Over his last three starts, it seems as though Hellickson may have turned that corner. Facing Boston, Toronto and Detroit – three teams with excellent lineups – Hellickson has allowed only three runs over 20 innings. His ERA has dropped from a bloated 5.67 down to 4.90 in two weeks. In fact, Hellickson is starting to look more like the pitcher that he was envisioned to develop into.
Now that David Price has returned and the Rays are entering an easier slate of games, it may be even more important for Hellickson to continue his recent run of success as they look to get closer to a playoff berth. The schedule certainly lines up for Hellickson to sustain his recent run, as he gets to face the White Sox tonight and the Twins on Wednesday for his next two starts.
Jeremy Hellickson is going to be a vital part of the Rays run to the postseason, and he has begun to pitch as they need him to. If he continues to pitch well up to the All-Star Break, then he may have finally turned the corner as we have been waiting for.