After yet another poor performance on Sunday night, Washington Nationals starter Jeremy Hellickson is becoming a liability.
When the Washington Nationals have been at there best in years past, the team has been lead by their starting pitching. Since the teams first trtp to the post season in 2012, Washington has built teams focused on having dominant starters, and have made many big-money investments in pitching.
This season, Washington has arguably the best top three starters in all of baseball. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin are a trio that can match up against anyone on paper. All three have a legitimate shot at winning the Cy-Young this season, and with minimal run support they have still been able to provide All-Star level production.
There was never a question about the Nationals top three starters, but this off season they took a gamble on the bottom two. After trading away LHP Gio Gonzalez at the trade deadline last season, Washington clearly needed at least one starter this off season. After signing Corbin, Washington made a move weeks later to trade RHP Tanner Roark to the Cincinatti Reds.
Shortly after this deal, the Nationals signed RHP Anibal Sanchez to take over Roark’s spot. Just a few weeks before spring training kicked off, the team brought back RHP Jeremy Hellickson to once again be the teams fifth starter.
At this point of the season, it looks like both have been failed investments. Gonzalez and Roark are having very solid seasons, while Sanchez and Hellickson are struggling. To date, Sanchez has not been as good as many hoped, but he has shown signs of his 2018 self and been able to keep Washington in almost all the games he started.
A perfect example of this is his start on May 5 in Philadelphia. Sanchez started the game throwing nearly fifty pitches in the first inning, but he was able to battle back and finish 4.2 innings, striking out nine, and giving up just two earned runs.
The same cannot be said for Hellickson. With Washington’s bullpen struggling so much, having Hellickson in the starting rotation is becoming a liability for the Nationals.
In nine starts this season, Hellickson has gone more than 5.2 innings just once. He also has given up 22 runs over his last five starts, and the Nationals have gone 1-4 in those games.
With a bullpen that has preformed so poorly and quite frankly just does not have a lot of talent, it is imperative you have starters that can at least attack hitters and get you through six innings. Hellickson is not that guy.
Tanner Roark would be a perfect fifth starter for this Nationals team. While sometimes Roark was not great, he did attack the strike zone and always seems to be able to battle through five or six innings, even when he was not on his game. In fact, Roark went six innings or more in 21 of his 31 starts for the Nationals in 2018.
For Hellickson, it seems like a stretch to even ask him to get through five innings, and this will make the Nationals bullpen even worse than it already is. When your bullpen is as bad as Washington’s, you have to try to at the very least keep your guys healthy and rested. At the rate he is on now, every Hellickson start you are going to need likely at the very least five innings of relief, and that will take a serious toll on the bullpen.
The Washington Nationalks have options, and are not locked into having Jeremy Hellickson as their fifth starter. Whether it is Joe Ross, Kyle McGowin, or Erick Fedde, it is time for Washington to pull the plug on the Hellickson experiment and give someone else a chance.