When he faced the San Diego Padres in Petco Park on May 8th, Jeremy Hellickson flirted with perfection, retiring eighteen-straight before he gave up a hit.
Hellickson went 6 2⁄3 scoreless in that start, giving up two hits and earning his first win of the season.
In three starts this month, before facing the Padres again, the 31-year-old right-hander held opposing hitters to one run on eight hits in 17 1⁄3 IP (0.52 ERA), over which he’d given up just one walk, while striking out 17, with a .140/.155/.193 line against.
Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez was asked after the outing in Petco Park if the veteran righty was pitching with something to prove after a down year in 2017 and a long winter without many offers before the Nationals came calling.
Martinez said it was mostly about Hellickson being healthy and throwing strikes against the Padres.
“He was throwing strikes,” Martinez said. “All his pitches were working. He was working ahead in the count. And that’s what you get from Jeremy when he’s on.
“He throws his curveball, changeup, cutter, two-seamer, everything is over the plate.”
His second start of the month against the Padres began with three scoreless, but Franchy Cordero got all a 2-1 slider in the first at bat of the fourth, sending a solo shot to right field to put the Padres up early, 1-0.
Hellickson completed a quick fifth, but left the mound mid-at-bat in the sixth with what looked like a blister on his right middle finger...
Jeremy Hellickson’s Line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 75 P, 46 S, 7/0 GO/FO.
Martinez confirmed after the outing that it was a blister that ended Hellickson’s seventh start of the season.
“He had a blister. He had the same thing the last outing too,” Martinez explained.
“Felt it on that changeup that I threw about 55 feet,” Hellickson told reporters, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier.
“I threw a couple of curveballs after that that I couldn’t pull down on. Just couldn’t feel the ball on my finger.”
“His finger kind of gets soft,” Martinez said, “and after about five days they treat it and they get it and he’s fine, and then all of a sudden during the course of the game it does the same thing, but sometimes it’s worse than others, but when he looked in the dugout I knew exactly, he’s got that blister back.”
Hellickson’s outing ended with his ERA at 2.13 on the year, to go along with a 2.99 FIP, six walks (1.42 BB/9), and 31 Ks (7.34 K/9).
“5 1⁄3 and one run, can’t really complain about that,” Hellickson told MLB.com. “Made a lot of good plays. There was a lot of balls hit right at guys that made some good plays on.”