Every turn through the rotation for the Orioles seems to give two or more chances for everyone to realize that the O’s are going to have to do something to improve their starting staff.
That doesn’t mean that they’re going to be able to do so. They don’t have much to trade. But if they were going to do something, Philadelphia’s Jeremy Hellickson seems like the kind of pitcher who might be up their alley.
No surprise that the Orioles are among the teams apparently scouting Hellickson’s outing on Wednesday night, according to CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury. The Giants, Pirates, and Blue Jays also were keeping an eye on Hellickson, though the only team that Salisbury mentions as having “discussed” Hellickson is the Orioles.
A pending free agent at age 29, Hellickson is in that category of pitcher who is just bad enough that he seems like a plausible acquisition for the O’s. He’ll cost something, but (hopefully) not much for a two month rental of a pitcher who’s working on a 4 ERA in the National League, while averaging fewer than six innings pitched per game started.
The question to ask about Hellickson would be, is he so much better than Vance Worley or whoever would be the fifth starter to be worth acquiring? He might be, though he’s four years removed from the last time he was better than a league average pitcher, and even then he only threw 177 innings, so it’s not like he’s ever been a workhorse.
There are good things about him. He doesn’t walk many people - only 27 to date. And back when he was successful, he was succeeding in the American League East, so you know that he’s at least gotten along fine in this league in the past. It’s not a complete mystery how the NL to AL transition will go.
On the other hand, he gives up home runs like they’re going out of style, and he has always done so in his career, even when he was good.
Surrendering 18 home runs in his 111.2 innings pitched is not good. Some pitchers can be successful in O’s uniforms despite being homer-prone - all of Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, and Wei-Yin Chen - so it’s not a guarantee he’d be a failure here.
It’s enough to make one nervous, though, especially if the Orioles end up bidding against other teams and must surrender one of their few vaguely promising prospects for that short rental of Hellickson.