There’s no way around it: Jeremy Hellickson had a very forgettable season. After a solid 2018 campaign (3.45 ERA in 19 starts), the right-handed hurler nearly doubled that output (6.23 ERA in nine appearances — eight starts) in 2019.
The Nationals struck gold when they signed him during Spring Training the first time around. Not the second time. He struggled out of the gate, was sent to the injured list with what was diagnosed as a stiff right shoulder on May 21, and didn’t return until September call-ups — although he didn’t ever truly return, because he never took the mound again.
Not everything about Hellickson is negative. The 32-year-old righty is a steady veteran presence that can generally be relied upon as a bottom-of-the-rotation starter. He also happens to be nine years older than me — to the date (April 8).
His future is a bit unclear now. If he could’ve replicated his 2018 productive, he may have still been able to stumble upon a modest multi-year contract. Instead, he might be staring down a minor-league deal with an invite to Spring Training.
As tempting as it is to say that Hellickson’s time in Washington is over, that last point is noteworthy. As a starting pitcher on a minor-league tryout basis, he could provide significant value. Joe Ross, Austin Voth, and Erick Fedde will be competing for a spot in the Nationals’ rotation — possibly two spots, depending on whether they sign or replace Stephen Strasburg. While relatively unlikely, if none of them look the part during Spring Training, someone like Hellickson could easily be the beneficiary.