Mel Antonen has a piece at SI.com on young pitchers. Within the piece, he spends a good deal of time writing about how the Rays will handle Jeremy Hellickson and the rest of their young starting pitchers. A few of the highlights…

  • Andrew Friedman on limits for young pitchers: “There’s no hard and fast rule…There are a lot of things that factor into it. It depends on the progress of each pitcher. We just try to find the right work load.”
  • David Price is one of the young arms in baseball that was in “uncharted waters” last season as far as innings pitched (we discussed this a few weeks ago).
  • Friedman on Price: “Price’s innings were north of where we wanted to be, but he has a good work ethic and his innings were efficient.”
  • Joe Maddon says a 20% increase over the previous season is “the ultimate monitoring device,” and that is the number he is looking for with Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann and Price. But, Maddon said “All three have to be watched closely. Both Davis and Niemann missed time with injuries last season, so their situations warrant scrutiny. In David’s case, we extended him, so we will be watching all of them closely.”
  • Maddon on Hellickson: “The backside of Jeremy’s schedule may be a little different. If it looks like we have a chance at the postseason, we may have to adjust his activity.”
  • Maddon: “You don’t worry about guys that have pitched seven or eight years, but these guys aren’t there yet.”

So what does a 20% increase limit mean for the Rays rotation? Let’s take a look…

Obviously Price would have a hard time reaching 265.2 innings pitched in 2011 (Roy Halladay led all MLB with 250.2 in 2010). But considering his workload in 2010, Maddon will certainly look to go easy on Price’s arm at times this season.

Likewise, Shields’ numbers are fine. Niemann and Davis, with full seasons, will come close to their limits. This could be a factor if the Rays make the playoffs. But at that point, both will just have to suck it up.

Hellickson, like Price, could be in need of protection. With just 155.2 innings in 2010, his limit in 2011 will be 186.2 ip. That should be fine for the regular season. But if the Rays make the postseason, Hellboy may be the odd-man out based on his workload alone. Or as Maddon indicated above, Hellickson could be given extra time off down the stretch. A risky proposition if the team is fighting for a playoff spot.

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17 Comments

  1. leningan says:

    yet another reason for MGMT to keep Hellickson in Durham for the first month or so? can they still delay his arb clock or, has that ship sailed?

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    • Tom says:

      Why is this a reaon to keep Hellickson in the minors? Will he pitch fewer innings at Durham?

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      • Ken Kandefer says:

        Yes he would pitch less innings at Durham since it will not be as critical for him to try and win those games as it would be in Tampa Bay. They did the same thing with Price in 2009. They brought David along slowly in Durham for about 2 months and then he was still very stong at the end of September, without throwing more than the desired number of innings for the year.

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      • Joe says:

        He would if they treated it like 2009 Price and he never pitched more than 5 innings or threw more than 100 pitches. I don't think we will see that again though, I think that we traded Garza not just because the package we got back was awesome but because we really want Hellickson in our rotation. Same would of been true of Jennings, maybe if he killed AAA and looked good in his limited time in the majors, there would of been no Damon signing or a Upton trade made for him.

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        • Gus says:

          Jennings had 21 at bats in 17 games. This is no kind of statistical sample to draw anything on. He never had a chance in 2010 to prove anything, yet it is gospel that he blew his chance. I don't understand how Jennings has been written off for the 2011 starting line-up in the last 2 months. He shouldn't be handed the job, but he should be given the opportunity to prove he can win the job in the spring and then given some leeway to prove he belongs in the regular season. Otherwise, the hidden hand of service time can be the only explanation.

          As for Hellickson, given how economical he is, 100 pitches of Hell-Boy is FAR less taxing on the bullpen than starting Andy Sonnanstine every 5th day. Not to mention the difference in the result!

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      • leningan says:

        yes, and it will be in a more controlled environment without any real repercussions on the big league sqaud. In other words, Hellickson could go out throw enough to keep stretched out and not tax our bullpen every 5th day, while also pitching under much less stressful circumstances. The stress is just as important as the number of innings. But, if they can't postpone his arbitration anymore, this is a moot point, as he would undoubtedly be our 5th on opening day. Then it becomes a matter of skipping some starts here and there, maximizing the All-Star break, and giving Jeremy a "shoulder stiffness" DL trip.

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    • MJ says:

      for arguments sake, who would be 5th pitcher if they put him in minors? Sonny i suppose?

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      • Joe says:

        Can we have Archer or Torres please? I will answer that myself, no, not without probably 2 injuries. Yes Sonny would start for a month if Hellickson stayed in Durham but he will be our #5 on opening day and probably already our #2 based on talent.

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  2. Gus says:

    Turf Cam update: the field is basically in and it is definitely greener -- almost kelly green. But I think it will look better than what they had. If you factor how many hours we will all be looking at the turf this year, it is kind of important that we don't hate the look of the turf. It is as if they went from a Kentucky Blue Grass (like the White Sox have) to a version of the bright green rye grass they put down over the winter on golf courses around Florida.

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  3. Don says:

    Where would Jennings start ???
    He's not going to beat out Damon in LF, he could compete with Upton in CF ..both same kind of players...fast, ok in field, stupid, weak hitters,
    Jennings not better than Zobrist/Joyce combo in RF....
    Where would Jennings start?

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    • Gus says:

      Where does DJ play?

      First off, you approach the issue in an un-Maddon approach. Maddon has no set line-ups, and Damon is not going to be a plus outfielder anymore. So you could say Jennings plays LF or RF against lefties, giving Damon or Joyce a blow (assuming Zobrist will still be in the mix in the middle infield or 1B). To the extent Damon plays 1B or DH, we've got more OF at bats to be had.

      But I'll turn the tables on you Don and ask: Who is going to lead off for this team? It has been a hole for years, almost as nagging and persistent as the closer hole. Is Jaso going to be the everyday lead off man? He was the best option last year, but doesn't seem optimal. Jennings, who has shown decent patience in the minors, seems to be the best lead off candidate in the system. We don't have Bartlett around anymore. Upton is a lead off failure and his power is probably needed in the middle of the order. Do we expect Damon to be leading off?

      Again, he has to earn it in the spring and early season and he can't play if he's hurting the team. But holding down the growth and development of your No. 1 position player prospect for a rent-a-season from Damon and Ramirez seems very un-Ray like and very short sighted.

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      • Joe says:

        Well, that's the point, Jennings doesn't have a position this season because unlike Hellickson, he didn't force the Rays hand. If he was having a great year, he would of been called up much earlier than he was and had the chance to show his skills in the big leagues and if he did well enough, he would have a job this season from the start, now he will need an injury or 2.

        That's the point though, if he showed enough last year, there wouldn't of been a Damon signing or there might of been a Upton trade, just like with Hellickson, they opened a spot for him.

        That being said, Rays can be surprising quite often and it wouldn't be the biggest shock if they have Damon at 1B and Jennings in LF IF he has a monster Spring AND Damon shows that he can handle 1B well.

        Speaking of future studs, I wonder if all they are doing with McGee in the Spring is determining if he is a reliever or a starter and if he will be in Tampa or Durham or if they will give him the chance to win the job as closer.

        Would take a whole lot but if Jennings can take that LF job and McGee can be closer, you would have 3 way ROTY race on one team. Of course, if one of those happens, we still have 2 possible winners on the same team.

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        • Michael says:

          Helliskson did not force the Rays hand at all. He did do well, but he didn't "force" them to put him in the majors. If it wasn't for the injuries, he would not have been called up till Spetember.

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  4. Don says:

    Oh Gus..."lead off has been a hole for the Rays for years"
    How soon we forget...poor Aki...lead the 2008 team to the WS hitting 1st...
    Bartlett was good if not great at lead off..I'll take him anytime...
    Jaso..unbelievable as a rookie...and even a catcher at that (unheard of)...
    he could have been even better if "allowed" to play by a moron manager who insists on playing Shopp. because they got burned on his $3mil...2nd year contract....
    So all in all ....I'll take our last 3 leadoff hitters before anything I have seen Jennings do.....that would be a hole!

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    • Gus says:

      I couldn't find the data, but I know Cork had it once what each position was producing offensively -- Rays leadoff hitters v. the league average -- and it wasn't good. Bartlett led off the most of any Ray last year, and was pretty dreadful when he did it. Upton struggles up there also. Jaso was the best, but he's only v. righties and if he plays more catcher, you have to wonder if his quickness can stay up there.

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