Javier Serna of The News & Observer caught up with Jeremy Hellickson and his pitching coach Xavier Hernandez. In addition to learning that Hellboy has added a cut fastball this season, Hernandez was asked whether Hellickson is ready for the majors…

“He’s close to being ready,” he said. “Is he there yet? No, but there’s always room to improve, and that’s one thing he’s shown us. He hasn’t been satisfied with where he’s at. He’s always trying to find an edge to make himself better.”

Is Hernandez just trying to keep Hellickson from getting frustrated or complacent? Or is there really still work to do? Few pitches ever come to the big leagues “ready.”

So the question becomes: How ready does Hellickson need to be? The Rays have been very careful with Hellickson’s pitch-counts this season after pitching only 114 innings last season. And based on his lack of experience, we still believe the Rays would prefer to wait until 2011 for him to make his debut.

But the most likely scenario may be one in which Hellickson fills a role similar to that of David Price in 2008. That is, come up in September, get some big league experience in the bullpen and make one or two starts to give the top five guys a few extra days of rest down the stretch.

There is little question that Hellickson would be in the big leagues already if he were in one of about 20 other organizations. But the Rays have depth at the position. And after Wade Davis’ 8-inning performance last night, there may not be a need for Hellboy anytime soon. Then again, it is not a coincidence that Davis and Hellickson are now pitching on the same days in the rotation.

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9 Comments

  1. Eric says:

    Lets hope they don't have to bring him in to the super charged pressure situations Price faced in 08.

    Talk about a debut! Price did a bit more than "get some big league experience".

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  2. Brian H says:

    any chance, they are pulling the old longoria move, "he hasnt failed yet, he needs to work on hitting breaking balls,etc." so that come next season they can wait till next june to get him in rotation.

    nah after typing this, seems unlikely right? they brought davis into the rotation this year from day 1. however it is going to be enticing to keep davis and hellickson 2 years apart from free agency, isnt it?

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      Certainly wouldn't surprise me. They may value Hellickson long-term more than Davis. In other words maybe they have already targeted Hellboy as a guy they will want past free agency.

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    • Beth says:

      But Davis didn't make his debut this year -- he had a few spot starts late last year, and then fought for the 5th starter position in the spring. So if that's the model, they could bring up Hellickson for a few September starts and then let him compete for a job in 2011.

      I know there are real financial incentives for teams to leave players at triple A longer and thereby delay starting their free agencies clocks. But there may well be good reasons to give Hellickson a full AAA season, and don't forget if they bring him up to St. Petersburg this summer, they are in all likelihood bringing into a pennant race (knock on wood).

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  3. Nick says:

    I would bet Hellboy makes a spot start or two during this season. They have already said Price is getting up there in innings and pitches. We have an easier schedule later in the year.

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  4. Chris D says:

    Hellickson had an awful start last night. No life on his fastball, missing his spots. Hopefully just rust from the time off, but definitely not prime time.

    Of interest though, including last night's game, the Bulls are 26-5 in games that he has started.

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    • Alex says:

      He was doing fine till the 4th inning. He just had a strange implosion. Up to that point I believe he had 6 k's 1BB and 1hr given up. Then in the 4th he walked 4 guys and gave up 2 more hr's.

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  5. John S says:

    Hellboy will come up when the rosters expand and will go the Price way. The person who mentioned this is correct, the Rays have basically came out and said that. Even if he comes for and plays for 10 games his arb clock is already pushed back a year; the same as if he were to start the season with us.

    So the whole arb clock thing is being overblown, it will not come into play.

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