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.


Grade: B

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  1. Keystone

    November 22, 2016 02:26 PM

    Does an opening day rotation of:
    1. Hellickson
    2. Velásquez
    3. Nola
    4. Eickhoff
    5. Thompson/Asher/Eflin/Lively

    scare anyone else knowing that the Phillies ranked 26th in ERA and 26th in home runs allowed?

    I know the offseason has barely begun but the 40 man roster is currently full, protecting the the young prospects.

    • Lefty

      November 22, 2016 03:11 PM

      We’re not close enough to spend big on a bonafide ace or two, yet. The budget is positioned to do so if the team develops over 2017. If you bump the names you have listed down a notch or two (adding newly acquired aces at the top), the rotation looks very good, especially considering that a team will probably need 8 pitchers to get through an entire season.

      • Keystone

        November 22, 2016 03:48 PM

        I certainly have no delusions of contending this season, but putting out the same pitching staff with only Neshek as an addition to the bullpen scares me. Especially considering that the offense ranked dead last in baseball and the pitching was 26th out of 30 teams.
        Again i realize the offseason just began, but there is no open spots on the roster to sign free agents. This does lead me to think that there could be a trade. If not the additions of Kendrick on offense and Neshek in the pen lead to about the same record as last season.

    • Romus

      November 22, 2016 03:26 PM

      From your list above of eight pitchers, Eickhoff really surprised me …. over his last 41 starts, who would have thought his bWAR would be 5.3 and Cole’s over his last 44 starts was 6.7.
      Eickhoff could be somewhat scary in the rotation above.
      Heck, Eickhoff’s bWAR of 3.5 in 33 2016 starts betters Jeremy Hellickson’s 3.0bWAR in 32 starts.

    • Andrew R.

      November 22, 2016 05:58 PM

      I’m not scared because they are young and still honing their craft. Halladay, Lee nor Hamels came out at age 21 or 22 looking like a stud. We’re rebuilding. Let’s see how they do.

      • Edwin

        November 22, 2016 10:24 PM

        I don’t about Halladay or Lee but Hamels looked pretty studly when he came up…according to my sister.

    • Steve

      November 23, 2016 07:54 AM

      That rotation doesn’t particularly scare me considering 2017 is all about player development and not wins and losses. Theres no ace on that staff for sure, but how many NL teams have a 2, 3, 4 that you would trade our for? At this stage in the rebuild, the 5 spot is supposed to be a revolving door of young arms until we figure out who is a legitimate MLB SP. Also, which “ace” would you like them to sign this off-season? The smart play is to fill out the rest of the rotation, and spend big next year or the year after when true top shelf arms become available.

      Technically the 40 man is full, but people can still be released (heres looking at you Asche) if they make a move for a better player. Kendrick was a very solid move, and quite frankly, a crative way to fill an OF spot given what was available. Neshek isnt Jensen or Chapman, but he will improve pen.

      • Steve

        November 23, 2016 07:55 AM

        Opps, meant to respond to Keystone…

  2. joseph goldberg

    November 23, 2016 09:03 AM

    I’d be willing to include either, or both, Velasquez and/or Nola in a deal to get a big time veteran OF bat, if we knew we’d keep him for the next 3 seasons. Someone like J.D. Martinez, or…Mike Trout (a deal for him would obviously need to include other players like Cesar Hernandez, Odubel, and Knapp or Alfaro).

    • Steve

      November 23, 2016 12:35 PM

      I love JD Martinez. No way would I gove up Nola and Velazquez for him. Why even give up one? Id rather overpay a FA then start dealing multiple good young players for guys in their 30s.

      Trout is obviously fantastic, but now youre talking about giving up 2 upper- mid rotation arms, an all star CF, a first division regular 2b, and a prospect who could be anywhere from every day catcher to all-star caliber. Not to mention they are all extremely cost controlled. Thats almost half of a starting team, for one guy. Thats not how teams improve.

    • Artie

      November 23, 2016 02:57 PM

      A team would probably have to take Albert Pujols’ contract along with Trout to interest the Angels.

      • Romus

        November 23, 2016 04:16 PM

        Well then, taking Albert Pujols contract is a deal breaker.
        What would we do with Tommy Joseph! 🙂

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