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Hellickson showcases quality stuff in QS

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Jeremy Hellickson figures to make three more starts before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Many still expect him to be traded, but it is not a sure thing.

Hellickson allowed three runs in six innings Friday night in the Phillies' 6-3 loss to the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. He is 5-5 with a 4.49 ERA in 18 starts this season, although he has pitched better recently, with a 3.20 ERA over his past four outings. Two or three more starts like that, and a contending team looking to stabilize its rotation might make a run at Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the season.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Jeremy Hellickson figures to make three more starts before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Many still expect him to be traded, but it is not a sure thing.

Hellickson allowed three runs in six innings Friday night in the Phillies' 6-3 loss to the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. He is 5-5 with a 4.49 ERA in 18 starts this season, although he has pitched better recently, with a 3.20 ERA over his past four outings. Two or three more starts like that, and a contending team looking to stabilize its rotation might make a run at Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the season.

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"He's a good pitcher," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's had his ups and down this year. In general, I think the positives outweigh the minuses. He's going to throw you strikes. On a given day, he's really tough to hit."

Hellickson allowed a two-run home run to Josh Bell in the fourth inning to hand the Pirates a 2-1 lead. Gregory Polanco hit a solo homer two batters later to make it 3-1.

Both homers came on changeups.

Video: PIT@PHI: Polanco drills a solo homer to right field

"I more aimed them and babied them," Hellickson said. "Just got lazy."

Hellickson has allowed 10 homers on changeups this season. He allowed just three last season.

"Just inconsistent," Hellickson said of his first half. "It was nice to finish halfway decent. The good thing is, I feel great. The stuff is feeling good. It's just making too many mistakes with my changeup in the last couple starts. But fastball is feeling good, the curveball is coming around. I've just got to stop being lazy [with the changeup]."

Pat Neshek appears to be a lock to be traded before the end of the month. Howie Kendrick could be traded, once he returns from a stint on the disabled list caused by a strained left hamstring. Daniel Nava and Joaquin Benoit could be flipped, although neither would bring much in return.

Hellickson remains a bit of a wild card. The Phillies almost certainly will pay much of the remaining $17.2 million of his contract. And a team could see value in acquiring a veteran starter, even his numbers are not sparkling. The Phillies acquired Joe Blanton from the A's in July 2008. He was 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA at the time of the deal. He posted a 4.20 ERA in 13 starts with the Phillies, stabilizing the rotation on its way to the 2008 World Series title.

"Just see what happens," Hellickson said.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Philadelphia Phillies, Jeremy Hellickson