By Michael Donovan
Last night’s win might be the last time Phillies fans see Jeremy Hellickson in a Philly uniform.
And he made it memorable.
He allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings, doubled down the left-field line in the fifth inning to score two and give the Phillies a 3-2 lead, but he also left the game in the sixth with his right hand bothering him after he got jammed fouling off a pitch during the same at-bat.
It wasn’t Hellickson’s finest performance in recent weeks, but it was his final one before tomorrow’s non-waiver trade deadline.
“I have no idea,” Hellickson said when asked if he thought he would be traded. “I’ll find out Monday.”
Scouts from several contenders watched him pitch, including those from the Rangers, Blue Jays and Tigers.
It was the first time Hellickson had not pitched at least six innings since June 4, snapping a streak of nine consecutive starts of six or more innings pitched. He seemed to be on track to pitch six again, but he bruised his pitching hand in that fifth-inning at-bat, which made it difficult for him to throw his curveball.
“Still not really sure what it is,” Hellickson said. “A bruise. Or I popped something in there. But I felt fine, though, after I did it.”
The Phillies did not want to draw attention to Hellickson by having a full-blown conference on the mound, so Phillies manager Pete Mackanin had pitching coach Bob McClure check on him by himself.
“I don’t want to lose the game because he’s got a sore hand,” Mackanin said. “In the end, it’s not a big deal. It’s not like his elbow was hurting, you know what I mean? I don’t care, I don’t want to lose the game.”
Hellickson has a 2.49 ERA (14 earned runs in 50 2/3 innings) in his last eight starts. He has struck out 34 and walked six in that span.
A contending team in need of starting pitching might want somebody like that.
But what is the asking price for Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the season? ESPN.com reported earlier this week that the Phillies are looking for an organization’s top-five prospect. It is believed the Phillies have a high asking price because they could make Hellickson a qualifying offer following the season. If he rejects the one-year contract, which could exceed $16 million, the Phillies would receive a compensatory Draft pick if he signs elsewhere.
So, in the mind of the Phillies, they want talent comparable to a potential Draft pick.
Of course, Hellickson is not the only Phillies’ starter available in a trade. The Rangers and Phillies have been discussing a deal for Vince Velasquez, although sources told MLB.com that a deal is unlikely.
“I can’t control any of it,” Hellickson said. “So I’ve just been focused on every start and in-between starts. Whatever happens, happens. Hopefully I’m still here on Tuesday.”