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.