8:12pm: Hellickson has a right knee sprain, the club announced (via Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, on Twitter). That’s certainly good news for the Phils and for Hellickson, assuming that there’s no further damage.
7:30pm: Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson left the mound tonight with an apparent injury, calling for the trainer in the middle of the fourth inning. This was his final scheduled start of the season, with free agency beckoning at year’s end.
At present, there is no indication of just what went wrong. Certainly, it isn’t clear whether Hellickson suffered any significant injury, let alone one that would impact his upcoming entry onto the open market.
Any uncertainty could have a major impact on a pitcher who’ll be one of the best available through free agency this winter. Philadelphia has been expected to issue a qualifying offer to Hellickson, who’ll presumably decline it in hopes of securing a multi-year pact.
Hellickson, 29, has provided Philadelphia with 185 2/3 innings of 3.78 ERA pitching entering tonight’s contest, with 7.3 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 and a 40.5% groundball rate. ERA estimators weren’t quite as high on him as the results would suggest, but still valued him — as they have in years past — as a low-4.00 ERA arm.
That’s actually quite a valuable profile, especially in a market that lacks anything close to the firepower we’ve seen in recent years. Hellickson has an argument as the hurler with the most earning potential this winter, with his top competitors likely being the aging-but-suddenly-unhittable Rich Hill and a re-emergent Ivan Nova.