Hellickson gives Phils quality after rough first

June 20th, 2016

PHILADELPHIA -- With the Draft in the rearview mirror, the Phillies are beginning to prepare to field calls for players as the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.

Jeremy Hellickson, whose contract expires and the end of the season, figures to be one of a handful of players teams inquire about. If Hellickson's last three starts scared anyone off, his seven innings of three-run ball against the D-backs in Monday's 3-1 loss should at least temper those fears.

"Without question he could be a big trade chip for us," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said, "but he's had enough good outings where I like him pitching for us."

When Hellickson was asked about possibly playing in a different jersey a month from now, he responded, "I'm not gonna talk about that right now."

Prior to Monday's outing, Hellickson had a 7.41 ERA over his last three starts. Although the numbers are ugly, Hellickson takes pride in the fact he was still able to eat innings in those starts.

"The last two at least I went six innings," Hellickson said. "Really, that's the only positive taken from those two was to get through six and save the bullpen a little bit."

The Phillies need a guy who can ease the load on the other young arms in the rotation. Hellickson provides that, going at least six innings in nine of his starts.

The 29-year-old Hellickson stands alone in the Phillies' rotation as the only pitcher over 25 years old. No other Philadelphia starter has a full big league season under their belt. Hellickson has five. On paper, Hellickson may act best as a trade chip, but as long as he is with the Phillies, he plays a crucial role in the clubhouse and on the field.

"You need somebody to set an example," Mackanin said, pointing out how Hellickson bounced back from a rough start to the game, retiring 22 of the final 24 D-backs he faced.

Hellickson allowed four straight D-backs hits to start the game, resulting in three runs, but he limited them to just two baserunners over his last six innings.

The Phillies' offense again could not back up a strong outing from a starting pitcher. That's why many pegged the Phils, now losers of 24 of their last 30, to be sellers at the Deadline before the season and why they sit at 30-41 after getting off to a surprising 24-17 start.

Hellickson is no stranger to the wheelings and dealings of MLB front offices. He has twice been dealt, first in 2014 from Tampa Bay to Arizona and again the following offseason to Philadelphia.

Should he continue to pitch as he did Monday and in many of his first 11 starts, Hellickson will be on a crash course with his first in-season trade.