Wednesday, January 27, 2016

2016 preview: Jeremy Hellickson

 
As we move toward the 2016 season, let us take a look at each player on the roster and what a reasonably successful season would look like. We started with Aaron Nola. Our most recent entry was Freddy Galvis.

Name: Jeremy Hellickson
Position: P Age: 29 in April
Bat/Throw: Right/Right
Number: 58 in Arizona
Experience: 142 games




What we saw in 2015 

Hellickson didn't play for the Phillies in 2015; he's the first import in our series. The Phillies acquired him for minor leaguer Sam McWilliams on Nov. 14. The Phils know what they got in the deal, a pitcher who can eat some innings and pitch somewhere near a league average ERA. Last season, his first in Arizona, Hellickson went 9-12 with a 4.62 ERA, pitching to a 1.329 WHIP, 2.7 walks allowed, 7.5 strikeouts and a 2.81 strikeout-to-walk rate. The Phillies are undoubtedly hoping for a return to his Rookie of the Year form, but if he pitches like he did in 2015, it's still an improvement over Aaron Harang and Jerome Williams who ate 62 starts for the Phillies.

Important goals for 2016 

Innings: Hellickson is heading into free agency, so he's got some extra incentive to prove his durability. Surpassing 170 innings on the season would be a boon to him and help the Phillies as the staff continues to grow. The Phillies were a playoff team the last time he topped 180 innings, so I wouldn't expect him to go that many frames.
Keep the ball in the yard: Heading into last year, Hellickson had given up 83 home runs in 640 innings. That's not alarming, but it's far from great. In Arizona, he suffered from giving up 22 jacks in 146 innings - a career-high 1.4 per 9 innings. Fourteen of those long balls were of the solo variety, so he somewhat limited the damage. While Citizens Bank Park doesn't have a pitcher's park reputation, he could see a dip in the number this year, particularly with the Phils' athletic outfielders.
Limiting the big hit: In his first four-plus seasons, Hellickson gave up a respectable .408 slugging percentage. Last season, he got ripped for a .462 mark. That's gotta come down. It wasn't just home runs. Hellickson gave up 40 doubles.

Analysis

The Phillies would definitely love it if Hellickson had a strong enough first half a team would be willing to part with a decent prospect to add him at the deadline. I thought they'd get to do that with Aaron Harang last year, but the wheels came off that wagon pretty quickly. That said, Hellickson has youth and a history of some success on his side. Heading into this season, he has a $7 million contract. If the Phillies trade him in late July while eating some of that salary, he could be valuable.
I've continued to warm up to this move as the winter has moved along. I think of him as a fitter Joe Blanton: In a good year, he's a slightly above average pitcher. Both of them even have a somewhat similar motion, with each pitcher finishing their followthrough without really bending over at the waist like most hurlers.