It’s not usually the case that a Jeremy Hellickson start in Philadelphia draws such a crowd, and judging by the Wednesday night audience of 20,654, he still doesn’t. However, it wasn’t the number of people watching that mattered to everyone, but rather the type of people who showed up.
These types, to be exact:
#Orioles showing interest in Jeremy Hellickson, had scout in attendance at his start for #Phillies on Wed, sources tell @ToddZolecki and me.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 21, 2016
Sources: #Marlins still in on #Padres’ Cashner, #Phillies’ Hellickson; MIA team prez Hill watched Hellickson beat Fish in Philly tonight.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 21, 2016
And in front of those Orioles and Marlins reps, Hellickson tossed his best start of the season to the delight of the Phillies’ front office. Through eight innings, Hellickson allowed only one earned run, no walks, and struck out eight. His potential final performance as a Phillie did the team only slightly fewer favors than Cole Hamels did last year, when he threw a no-hitter right around the trade deadline to close his time in Philadelphia.
Hellickson is susceptible to catastrophe as a starter, which will come as no surprise to anyone who has been watching him prior to last night. But he has had a solid enough 2016—3.84 ERA, 8.0 SO/9, 3.93 SO/W in 119.2 IP—to be the trade chip the Phillies acquired him to be. Contenders like the Orioles or Marlins find him particularly attractive because he makes starts (20 so far this season), doesn’t cost much (Currently has about $3 million left on his one-year deal), and can slot into a rotation to cheaply replace a weak link like, say, Ubaldo Jimenez.
The Phillies are looking to make this deal similar to the one that sent Jonathan Papelbon to Washington and netted them pitching prospect Nick Pivetta. Not being on the hunt for an elite prospect, but rather a high ceiling arm, is probably the right move for the Phillies, as both the Fish and the O’s cannot boast very strong farm systems at the moment.
To Hellickson’s credit, he told reporters—despite the Phillies obvious flaws at the moment—that he doesn’t want to go anywhere.
"I feel like we’re a contender, so I would like to be here," he said. "Again, I’ll worry about that when it happens."