Jeremy Hellickson joined the folks at his hometown paper in Des Moines and took some questions from fans. You can see a complete transcript at USA Today.
The biggest news from the chat was when Hellboy was asked about his favorite pitch…
my favorite pitch is the cutter ive been working on for a few years now that will start working here soon… and that is also the hardest to throw
Our biggest concern with Hellickson in 2011 was that he appeared to get too fancy around the strikezone. Rather than depend on hitters swinging-and-missing, he was trying to hit the corner with every pitch. And as a result, the number of walks he allowed soared. And to us, that seemed to show that Hellickson had lost a little confidence in his ability to attack batters.
Hellickson also struggled against lefties in 2011. His xFIP versus left-handed batters was more than 2.00 higher versus lefties (5.76) than righties (3.62). To show you how bad that is, consider that Andy Sonnanstine had a better xFIP versus left-handed batters (5.64) in 2011.
According to Pitchf/x data, Hellickson threw just 37 cutters (1.3% of his pitches) last year. If the cutter can become a regular part of his arsenal, he could help correct both problems, as the cutter is a pitch that is designed to miss the sweetspot and often jams lefties.
Here are the rest of the highlights from Hellickson’s chat…
Smartest hitter he has faced:
bobby abreu.. he always has an idea of what he wants to do up there and has a great approach to it. i didnt really try to outsmart him because that wasnt going to happen so i just tried to miss his barrel
On his unemotional appearance on the mound:
i havent always been that way but keeping my emotions in check definitely helps me perform to the best of my ability. things dont always go your way throughout a game or season and the best thing to do for yourself and your team is to forget about it and move on to the next pitch, you just have to dig deep and keep ur head on straight and tell yourself itll be alright
Favorite themed roadtrip:
my favorite was pajama night leaving LA.. i was really comforable on that flight
On his favorite players:
i thought [my dad] was the greatest baseball player ever and i listened to everything he told me…. and then i found out about derek jeter and greg maddux and they became my favorite players
On the best basketball players on the Rays:
im definitely the best shooter and ball handler but as u know we have a few guys around 6’7 6’8′ so im not sure i could keep them out of the paint