The Washington Nationals have already made two major starting pitching additions, but the latest Nationals rumors have them connected to Jeremy Hellickson.
We’re exactly one week away from Washington Nationals pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training. But it seems as though Mike Rizzo is still on the lookout for possible pitching upgrade, including Jeremy Hellickson, who is the subject of recent Nationals rumors.
According to Craig Mish of SiriusXM, the Nationals and Hellickson are in talks about a possible reunion for the 2019 season. It certainly makes sense given the team’s need for further starting pitching depth this offseason as it hopes to avoid the problems they had last year.
In 19 starts for the Nats last season, the right-hander was relatively impressive, posting a 3.45 ERA while also posting career-best numbers in several categories. Sure, it’s not Max Scherzer levels of performance, but all you can ask of a fifth starter is to keep you in the game, not win it himself.
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The Nationals were able to maximize his effectiveness by rarely letting him face hitters a third time in a game. Opposing hitters slashed just .192/.245/.291 the first time through, and .214/.265/.393 the second time through, before a steep jump all the way up to .419/.500/.721the third time through.
The only real issue for Hellickson last season was his health as he ended up hitting the DL twice with a right hamstring strain and a right wrist sprain. Thankfully, both were seemingly fluke injuries, and neither shoulder or elbow related, so shouldn’t affect his 2019 performance.
Despite his seemingly impressive performance, it seems as though the quiet free agent market has once again depreciated his value. So it may even be possible for the Nationals to being the former Oriole back on another minor league deal with an invite to big league Spring Training.
The Nats interest in the right-hander probably indicates that the front office isn’t 100 percent confident in Joe Ross being able to pitch a full season in the rotation. Therefore, it makes sense to pursue Hellickson to add to the thin rotation depth that the team currently has.
At the very least, he will provide valuable insurance during Spring Training in case a rotation member goes down injured. Or he could once again impress the team and force them into demoting Joe Ross to Triple-A or to the bullpen in order to conserve his innings and be the first man up if injuries strike in the regular season.
Jeremy Hellickson turned out to be quite the find for the Washington Nationals late last spring. Now he could look to return to the team where he was able to prove he was still useful and help their bid to get back on top of the NL East.