Geez, how deep is the Rays starting pitching? The rotation gets a night off when a rookie gets a spot, one-time start, and he shuts down the Twins.
Mind you, this is not the Kansas City Royals. Minnesota is a damned fine team, just a game out (as of 10:53 p.m. Monday night) of first place in the American League Central.
Hellickson’s three-hit, seven-inning performance was simply outstanding for the first place Rays. That’s right. That’s no typo. Thanks to Hellickson’s right arm the Rays are in a first place tie with the hated Yankmees.
So Merlot Joe said this one-time tryout was planned… but for how long was it planned? Sorta get the hint that Hellickson, unless he totally implodes, will be back from Durham shortly.
Even if there isn’t room for Hellickson in the rotation, there is certainly room for him in the pen. This worked quite well when David Price was a rookie and it’s been done before. Adam Wainwright and Dan Haren, starters turned temporary relievers in 2006 and 2004, respectively, played critical roles in the Cardinals bullpen as rookies when St. Louis advanced to the Fall Classic both seasons.
Hellickson can do just that.
Hellickson’s performance almost made one forget about Matt Joyce. Is there a more dangerous hitter right now in the Rays lineup? Joyce, though he’s not hitting for average that well, seems to get monster hits at opportune times for the Rays, specifically without Ben Zobrist and Carlos Pena.
All in all this was a fine win and Joe hopes it’s the first of many for cornfed Iowa boy Hellickson.
In case you haven’t noticed folks, this team is good. Damned good.