KC Royals: Five Best Starting Pitcher Trade Targets
3) Jeremy Hellickson – Philadelphia Phillies
Jeremy Hellickson was a sabermetric puzzle after he won the rookie of the year award in 2011 with a 5.6 K/9. His 2.95 ERA was much better than his 4.44 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, a stat that attempts to strip away the effect of defense on a pitcher’s performance). Hellickson followed up that 2011 season with a 3.10 ERA in 2012 with a marginally improved 6.3 K/9 and an even worse 4.60 FIP.
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The 29-year-old Hellickson’s career bombed over the next three seasons in which he posted a 4.86 ERA and a 22-27 record. Oddly enough, his strikeouts increased to 7.5 per nine innings in 2015, but his effectiveness still remained in the tank.
Hellickson went from Tampa Bay to Arizona (2015), who was banking on a rebound after Hellickson underwent elbow surgery in 2013. He missed much of the 2014 season, and Arizona hoped he would return to full strength in his second season after surgery. Instead, it wasn’t until he hit Philadelphia this season that he regained his mojo.
In fact, Hellickson is striking out a career-high 9.0 hitters per nine inning to go along with a solid 3.80 ERA in 68.2 innings pitched. Of course, much of the strikeout bump is due to moving to the National League in 2015 where pitchers hit. But still, his walk rate is down to a career-best 2.2 per nine for a 4.06 K/W ratio.
The only thing causing him grief is his tendency to give up the gopher ball (11 in 68.2 innings). Yet, that would only improve making half his starts in a big park like Kauffman Stadium instead of a bandbox like Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The best part is that Hellickson is on a one-year deal at a little over $5 million.
The problem is that the Phillies are hanging in the NL East race at 28-29, which still leaves them with some faint hopes of a wild card. However, the Phillies also have over-performed their -49 run differential and are likely to slide. Presumably, that slide would make Hellickson available at the trade deadline.
Odorizzi is a better pitcher than Hellickson, but Hellickson should come much cheaper with free-agency looming after this season. Thus, his price in prospects should be significantly less.
Next: An Injured Padre