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Hellickson showcases worth in limiting Cards

Phillies starter allows 1 run over 7 innings, enhancing his potential trade value
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Jeremy Hellickson shook his head at the question late Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Does he expect to be traded?

View Full Game Coverage

PHILADELPHIA -- Jeremy Hellickson shook his head at the question late Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Does he expect to be traded?

View Full Game Coverage

"I don't know," he said with a chuckle. "I have no idea. Wish I had an answer for you."

Hellickson figured he would be traded last summer, but the Phillies held onto him and he accepted their one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer in the offseason. But if he keeps pitching the way he pitched Tuesday night in an 8-1 loss to the Cardinals, there is a good chance he finally will be traded to a contender.

Hellickson allowed six hits, one run and two walks in seven innings, while striking out four. It was the first time he pitched seven innings since April 21.

Tweet from @Phillies: Way to battle tonight, @JHell58. �� pic.twitter.com/eSM3DAa8pV

"I made a few adjustments," he said. "Just switched some things up out of the stretch trying to give myself a little more time to get my arm up and give myself more time over the rubber. It's something that I've been messing with for a while. I'm not the quickest to the plate when I do it, but my command was a lot better."

Hellickson went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts in April, but he went 1-5 with a 6.89 ERA in his following nine starts. He got 13 swings and misses Tuesday after having a combined 26 in his previous three starts.

"He looked much better," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

Video: STL@PHI: Mackanin on Hellickson's solid start in loss

Hellickson figures to make at least six more starts before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Those May and June struggles will be long forgotten if he takes advantage of those opportunities.

"That's not on my mind," Hellickson said. "Getting on a nice little run, a nice little groove, is definitely on my mind. You know, it's not fun sitting around for four days after a bad start, so I just have to try to fix some things and bear down a little bit and hopefully get a nice run before the break and get more consistent."

Video: STL@PHI: Hellickson discusses his strong performance

Howie Kendrick, Pat Neshek and possibly Daniel Nava could be traded before July 31. Each has performed well. The same cannot be said for veterans like Clay Buchholz, Michael Saunders and Jeanmar Gomez. Buchholz is not expected to pitch again this season following right elbow surgery. The Phillies designated Saunders and Gomez for assignment on Tuesday. Joaquin Benoit, like Hellickson, needs to pitch well the next few weeks to boost his value.

Phillies part ways with Saunders, Gomez

"The biggest thing is we have to be realistic," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said about the performance of the team's veterans. "We were pretty open about targeting players that were only under control for one year, either in trade or free agency. The nature of those targeted players is that there is going to be performance volatility. Otherwise, they would be signing five-year contracts. When you sign them all, you have the best of hopes and expectations that they will perform to their ceilings. But realistically, they have a degree of variability in their performance."

Hellickson hopes that performance volatility diminishes the rest of the way.

"Hopefully tonight was the start of a nice little run, put together a couple more before the break," he 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