Could a Rotation 5.5 Scenario Work for the Rays?

 
 
We all know that Tampa Bay Rays prospect Jeremy Hellickson’s name has been on the lips and minds of most MLB Fantasy baseball owners right now. I can admit he is on three of my teams, but what happens now? Most of us who roam the highways and byways of the Rays Republic know that Rays Manager Joe Maddon has been more than adamant about wanting to pamper Hellickson’s first journey up in the big leagues and Hellickson will be headed to the Rays Bullpen after his next start (Friday in Oakland ).

His next start will also correspond within a few days of the possible timeline for Rays pitchers Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis to come back from their recent shoulder stiffness vacation. With the Rays usual starting five then back into the swing of things, Hellickson will be free to free lance or get some spot duty here and there for the Rays. Maybe we can devise a roation 5.5 scenario and effectively use this hot young arm to the Rays rotation’s advantage through the final 46 games? 

Most people have the assumption that Hellickson will do mostly relief duty through the rest of the Rays 2010 season, pretty much exactly what David Price provided for the Rays in 2008. But I have another idea. I have something that just might be a perfect 5.5 scenario of attack the Rays could employ during the rest of the season.


Why not just let Hellickson take at least one spot start from the top three Rays starters during the rest of the 2010 season, plus one of the four games against the New York Yankees in September in New York to give the Rays starting five a short breather. It would give the Rays pitcher with the hottest arm right now a chance to gain momentum, confidence and also provide a alternative in-house to stave off any dead arm syndrome or possible long term injury.
 
With at least a pair of the Rays starters  currently showing a bit of late inning strain on their tired arms, it would be a possible 6-8 innings of work saved on their arms going into the stretch run of the season…and beyond. W
ithin the next few starts, if it seems that Price will not be able to hit that heralded 20-win mark, it would be a great time to even set down the mighty leftie for a game to also save his arm for the Playoff run.

 

This is not a 6-man rotation idea, but something I like to call rotation 5.5, where Hellickson can use his hot arm, plus give some added relief to the guys who have been grinding it out every five days all year long. Of course, this would depend on the match-ups provided by the opposition, but right now the finesse pitching of Hellickson could adapt well opposite almost any pitcher in the Major Leagues.


It’s just a thought. A rambling of my brain cells that tells me this could work in a perfect crescendo of pitching performances for the Rays. Hellickson has been groomed as a starter, and a small segment of his time can be used for relief, but you really have to be cautious when you fool with a pitcher’s mindset going from a starter’s mentality to the every day grind of a reliever not knowing if he is playing, or watching that game. You only have to look to the Yankees and what has been done with Joba Chamberlain to see how quickly you can confuse and ruin a great pitcher.

if you can get Hellickson a few extra starts before his formal “coming out” party in Spring 2011,then it can only help the young Iowa native. With 46 games left to play, and 28 of those against teams playing .500 or better, it might be time to use the Durham secret weapon to its fullest. Sure there will be boasted bravado from any of the five Rays usual starters that they do not need a tag team pitching match-ups down the stretch, but the Rays have been playing a gambler’s hand for a long time with no huge setbacks and injuries on their starting pitching front.

 

Do you want to really tease with disaster when the prize is gleaming right in front of your eyes?  Hellickson could be a huge and key ingredient to how far the Rays go in the 2010 post season. Just like Price, he has the goods and the talent to help fortify the Rays in either the Bullpen or the rotation down the stretch. Even though Hellickson is now the first Rays pitcher to EVER go 3-0 in his first three starts, it is the poise and finesse he has shown both on and off the mound that make him a multi-functional weapon for the Rays.

No matter which way the team decides to use Hellickson over those next 46 games, you can expect Hellickson to want the ball, hit the mound throwing, and providing a chance for his team to succeed… a great mirror image of Price’s same role in 2008.
 

14 Comments

A little creativity can go a long way…especially when the season starts to wind down and guys are getting tired. I saw, do what you need to do to keep the staff fresh!

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

Jenn,
Exactly. Rays Manager Joe Maddon is said to be the most cerebral savant in the Major League ranks.
With that in mind, he knows he has to rest the starters a bit to get their optimum potential come Playoff time.
Hellickson could be a nice piece to get the rest, but not fall too much in production.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

What a luxury you guys have. One pitcher goes down and you just bring up another prodigy like Helickson. So jealous!

- http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Jane,
And Hellickson is not the end of that long line, just a tip of the talent pool that will soon bubble over.
Another great pitcher to get a look soon will be Matt Moore who is a strikeout demon for the Durham Bulls. Plus leftie Jake McGee might get a shot sooner as a reliever than a starter, but has also gotten some great command and control this year.
That is just a trio siting back hoping Hellickson stays with the Rays so that they can shine bright at the Triple-A level.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

BCF,
Hellickson threw 117 innings for the Durham Bulls in 2010 before being brought up by the Rays.
Hellickson is currently at 20 innings with another start scheduled for this coming weekend against the Oakland A’s.
Considering he threw 114 innings in 2009, not counting the International League Playoffs and the Triple-A Championship game totalling just about 18 innings in the Post Season.
I would venture to say he has about 21+ innings at least before any thought of shutting him down too…..But you never know what Maddon is thinking.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Not a bad idea. But you have to realize that Hellboy has been starting in the minors all season too. If I’m not mistaken he is at or near his peak in innings pitched as a professional, too. You keep saying he has a hot arm, but for how long ?

Hi Cliff …

Great comeback 6-4 win by the Rays against Cliff Lee and the Texas Rangers; Just like the Yanks 7-6 comeback victory over Lee last week … Now, the Yanks and Rays are tied for first place in the AL East, in a pennant race that will go right down to the wire between the Yanks, Rays, and Red Sox … The Yankees need to start scoring runs, though, before this season and schedule start to get away from them. There are many big games yet to be played !!!
.
I look forward to watching Jeremy Hellickson pitch. He looks like the real deal !!! … And I agree; the Yanks really messed with Joba Chamberlain’s mind and development … In my view, Joba should be a starter … Hopefully, the Rays will be more careful in their handling of Hellickson, and the other young pitches in their minor league sysyem !!!
.
Take care, Cliff !!!
- Jimmy “BY&L”
http://baseballtheyankeesandlife.mlblogs.com/

The Rays farm system likes to up the IP per year by 20%. If what you are saying is right, and he pitched 132 innings in 2009, that means he should pitch about 158-159 innings this year. Considering he is at 137 now that would, that is indeed about 21 innings left. The only problem is that you want to keep him fresh for the post season too. What if he needs to make a start in some emergency? It really depends on how much the Rays are ready to extend him. Let’s say he gets two more starts and goes 6 innings each time, that leaves him with about 8 innings left for the year. They might not limit him to exactly 20%, but I think the idea is to have him ready for the post season in case he needs to make a start.

Well, that’s just my opinion on the matter anyways.

Jimmy,
I think the Rays and Yankees will fight it out back and forth to the end, but I am more worried about the Twins and White Sox than Boston right now. You guys have them in the last series of the year and can take them out…if they have not fallen off the pace before that series.
Joba is a good guy. I have talked to him a few timews before Rays games and he is an intelligent kid who seems to have been given some wrong advice. I thought he was a better starter too.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

10-1 nice game tonight! This was a barometer game. Today struck me as a seize the moment game. You like to see where you stand with the other leaders.
mike
http://thebrooklyntrolleyblogger.mlblogs.com/

Charm,
I know the Rays were looking at a 20 percent increase, which I totally agree with, but with the present expectations and possible usage, he might hit a 25 percent threshold.
I agree with you on so many points, but also know that all three of the Rays starters will have to at least miss one start before the Playoffs to also give them a slight breather before the Rays begin their post season.
The Rays will no doubt have a three man rotation for the playoffs with Garza, Price and maybe Shields in the top three mix, with Niemann as a fourth if needed.
I see Hellickson maybe doing long relief or seventh inning relief, but not closing like Price did in 2008 unless Soriano was used a lot in the first couple of games of a playoff series….even then, it might be a rare sight to see Hellboy on the rubber in the bottom of the ninth.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Mike,
I kind of look at this series between the Rays and Rangers as a possible ALDS match-up in October. If the Rays get the Wild Card, it is almost a certainty that they will play the AL West division winner, which right now is these Texas boys.
I think it is a barometer game for sure, but right now the hot Rays are steaming up the Rangers in this 3-game series.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Gee, what a terrible problem to have for a baseball team. Man… the Rays scouts sure have a sweet lil thang goin’ on down there.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

Jeff,
I think the Rays have a viable solution for every propbale injury, with a replacement somewhere in their system. The only position that might be a bit bare right nowmight be Third Base since they think they have that covered for at least 4 more years.
And you are right, it is sweet to know that the Rays have a solution to almost any problem, and can still go uotside the system to other teams if the right piece makes itself availiable.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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