Joe has been as critical as the next guy over the Rays’ lack of offense. The Rays didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard today, either.

Know what, it doesn’t matter when Hellboy is on the mound.

Hellboy, the moniker Twitterverse seems to have deemed the Rays’ young stud pitcher Jeremy Hellickson — with Merlot Joe’s approval — continues to put a smile on Joe’s face.

Dude gives up three hits (again) in six innings. How can anyone not like this guy? Thanks to Hellboy, Joe has Oktoberfest dancing in his head and it has nothing to do with busty blonde waitresses in revealing attire serving good German beer in quart steins along with massive brats to devour.

If the Rays do make the playoffs (oh, look, the Yankmees lost!), how huge will Hellboy’s starts wins have been? How many playoff-caliber teams can lose two starters — one of which is one of the best in the American League — at the same time, while witnessing its preseason ace stink the joint up worse than an uncleaned Fruitdome stall after an extra-inning game, and not lose one beat?

Hellboy is the story of the 2010 Rays and perhaps the savior.

Now the question is how to keep his arm from falling off. There’s no question he will remain with the club after Jeff Niemann and/or Wade Davis return. Joe’s guess is that Hellboy will go to the bullpen to be used as long relief/spot starter not unlike Andy Sonnanstine, an ode to Tony La Russa the way he used rookies Dan Haren and Adam Wainwright in the Redbirds’ World Series runs of 2004 and 2006, respectively.

Now the very real question is what to do with James “No Game” Shields? Right now he is no more/less dependable as a starter than Sonnanstine, no better than a No. 5 pitcher with Hellboy on the roster. Could Shields be sent down? Could Shields be relegated to the bullpen?

Fun and serious questions to ask as the Tampa Bay area prepares for Rays Oktoberfest.

Fun questions that a stud like Hellboy has forced upon Merlot Joe.



  1. Sarah says:

    I would imagine that the Rays would want to see Shields as part of a trade package to replace some departing position players over the winter. So the problem with completing dissing him (e.g. demotion to minors) is that you greatly devalue him as trade bait. I'm not saying we put the season on the line just to ramp up his trade value, but I don't see completely taking him out of the starter equation. And besides, they are absolutely not going to give Hellickson a regular starting role where he pitches a ton of innings. So Shields is here to stay. Presumably,however, he would not be part of any playoff rotation.

  2. Gatorbuc15 says:

    Just another great performance by Hellboy! His quality of pitches are literally just to much for other teams to handle. As he over powers them with his fastball, and cripples them with his changeup and curve. Right now, he is truely the best pitcher that the Rays have. And if Maddon even thinks about sending him back down to Durahm even for a day, to be replaced by No Game James, he needs to lobotomised! He'd better keep him in the lineup or put him in the bullpen at the very least!

    Your right Joe. Hellickson is truely the best story, and the savior of the 2010 Rays!

    P.S.- Don't talk about beer and brats so much, because your making me SALIVATE! Ich habe hunger!

    • Ken says:

      AF has said on several occasions, he will not increase the number of innings pitched by a SP to more than 20% per year while a SP is under the age of 24 or 25. The Rays (AF) had stated that Hellboy (23yrs old) was going to throw 35 pitches or 3 innings whichever came first for the rest of the season to keep him at the 20% increase for the 2010 season. AF has looked at the stat’s of SP’s under the age of 25 who pitch more than a 20% increase per year, and the numbers are stagering as to the probability of that young SP hurting their arm. It is not a surprise that our young pitchers the last few years under the AF watch have been the fewest to land on the DL. Once Jeff and WD are healthy, Hellboy will back at AAA until 9/1. If AF won’t trade minor leaguers at the 7/31 trade deadline, he surly will not jepordize the next 6 years (giving the Rays 180 starts) of a healthy Hellboy for 8 or 9 starts to finish up this 2010 season. Mark it down, Hellboy will be used like Price was in 2008. SP is too expensive to buy, so AF has to play the %’s and not risk Hellboy’s healthy future. Also, Hellboy will not be a SP to start the 2011 season. With a 20% increase in innings pitched for 2011, Hellboy will only throw a max of 190 innings. So he will be used in 2011 like Price was used in 2009. So I don't see us trading any of our SP's this winter

      • Blah blah blah... innings pitched... blah blah blah... Andrew Friedman.

        Throw that sh** out the window and introduce the Yankees and Red Sox to HELLBOY!

        • Ken Kandefer says:

          Will you have the same opinion if Hellboy's career ends up like Mark Prior and Kerry Wood? If the Rays are going to remain competitive for several years in a row and thus build up a fan base, they will need very good SP every year. There is no guarantee that Hellboy is the missing piece that gives us the WS ring. If you look at his start yesterday, his FB velocity was down. He had shoulder issues and missed 6 weeks of the 2008 season. He only threw 130 innings last year. These are warning signs that a prudent AF hopefully will not ignore.

  3. Connie says:

    media having way too much fun with this..."Heavenly start for Hellboy"....I love it! 🙂

  4. Are you freaking kidding me? They have a guy in the minors who could be a #2 on most teams? Ridiculous. They have to find a place on their post-season roster for this guy like they did David Price a few years ago. Their rotation is going to be STACKED in a year or two.

    • Ken says:

      Hellboy will be on the postseason roster. He just won't be a starter for the rest of this season or this postseason. He will work exclusively out of the bullpen this year, just like Price did in 2008.


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