2016 Phillies Report Card: Jeremy Hellickson
As we made our bold predictions to start off the 2016 baseball season, I guessed that Jeremy Hellickson would be a halfway decent reclamation project for the Phillies. Looks like I was right. (I also predicted that the Blue Jays would win the World Series so what the hell do I know?)
At any rate, thank you Jeremy Hellickson. Your relatively decent season made me look like a relatively decent prognosticator. With a 12-10 record, 3.71 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 154 Ks, this was Hellickson’s best season since his 2012 campaign.
And for what it’s worth—which is not a huge amount—he led the team in wins while tying a career high of 189 innings pitched. While aspiring studs like Vincent Velasquez and Aaron Nola weathered injury and inconsistency, Hellickson was an unlikely rotation anchor. The first month of the 2016 season sparked unrealistic expectations as a staff of young arms cruised through April with shocking authority. Less shocking was the fact that, by mid-August, the rotation was in total disarray.
With Nola and Zach Eflin on the DL, Velasquez just making his return from a bicep strain, Jake Thompson on an innings limit and Charlie Morton presumably sitting at home in a comfortable chair watching reruns of Downton Abbey, Hellickson became something more than a reclamation project. He’d completed the transformation from middling millennial to stable veteran presence.
Hellickson was never going to blow the competition out of the water, but he used all of his pitches effectively this year. And if he never quite excited you, you should at least prepare yourself for another season of boring consistency. Just last week, Hellickson accepted the team’s qualifying offer. He’ll spend another year in Phillies pinstripes, at a cost of $17 million.
Agent Scott Boras swears that Hellickson is simply the best under-30 right-hander on the market today, which doesn’t totally explain why he’s only the fourth of 64 major leaguers to eschew free agency in favor of a qualifying offer since the inception of this system in 2012.
But that’s neither here nor there. Also neither here nor there is the fact that Hellickson will now draw the fourth highest single season salary ever earned by a Phillies pitcher (behind Lee, Hamels and Halladay). Something tells me you’ll like Jeremy Hellickson a lot better if you don’t bother with the math. The truth is, there aren’t many better options out there and Hellickson has earned the role of veteran leader in a rotation that will continue to benefit from his experience.