Jeremy Hellickson was masterful tonight in what could potentially be his final start as a member of the Phillies, as he held the Marlins to a run on five hits and no walks with eight strikeouts in eight innings. Hellickson is widely expected to be traded prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline, and ESPN’s Jayson Stark writes that the Phillies are looking for a return similar to the one they got last summer in trading closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Nationals (right-handed pitching prospect Nick Pivetta). That is to say: they’re looking for a pitcher with a big arm (or multiple pitchers) not necessarily a top-tier prospect.
The Marlins themselves have had long-standing interest in Hellickson, Stark notes, and they got a first-hand look at the best he has to offer tonight. He adds that the Phillies will use the remaining money on Hellickson’s contract ($2.83MM through season’s end) as somewhat of a bargaining chip in talks, suggesting that they’ll be willing to eat some of the salary in order to enhance the prospect return from interested parties (if necessary). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, meanwhile, tweets that Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill was present at tonight’s game in Philadelphia and saw Hellickson dominate his club first-hand.
CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports that the Orioles, too, were present to scout Hellickson’s outing. More importantly from Salisbury, he writes that the Orioles and Phillies have already had discussions pertaining to Hellickson. However, one pitching-hungry team that is not in the market for Hellickson, according to Stark (Twitter link), is the Tigers. And, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb adds that the Pirates and Giants had scouts present at the Hellickson outing, though they’ve been present at a good deal of Phillies games lately to monitor the team’s available relievers.
Hellickson, 29, lowered his earned run average to 3.84 with tonight’s gem, and he’s now sporting a strong 8.0 K/9 against an similarly strong 2.0 BB/9 with a 42.1 percent ground-ball rate in 119 2/3 innings of work this year. He’s slated to become a free agent at season’s end, so the trade will benefit him in the sense that it removes the possibility of a being saddled with a qualifying offer.