It has been approximately four months since Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson was forced to undergo elbow surgery, but the long road to recovery is reported nearing the end. Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune reports that Hellickson is set to begin a formal rehab assignment with a start for class-A Charlotte on Saturday.
#rays Hellickson said he will pitch Saturday in Tampa for Class A Charlotte.
— RMooneyTBO (@RMooneyTBO) June 4, 2014
News that Hellickson was take the mound in a competitive game is a huge step for both the pitcher and the Rays, and reports from his work in simulated games were extremely encouraging. Expectations are that Hellickson will attempt to get through approximately four innings in his first rehab outing, and if all goes well, the left-hander could be on the fast track to returning to the big leagues in the next few weeks.
At 27 years old, Hellickson has already put together a very interesting career with the Rays. He has posted a very solid 3.70 ERA in nearly 600 innings across four seasons, but the peripherals have always suggested that Hellickson was on the “lucky” side of things with regard to that ERA. For instance, the still young left-hander profiled as a strikeout pitcher in the minor leagues, but his career MLB strikeout rate sits at a paltry 6.39 per 9 innings, and only solid control and quality defense have kept him in good standing.
The Rays have had an uncharacteristically tough time in run prevention this season, and adding an arm like Hellickson would be a significant pick-up for Tampa Bay.