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Jeremy Hellickson suffers first loss in return to Nationals’ rotation vs Phillies

Jeremy Hellickson’s command and control are still a work in progress, but he’s back in the majors with the Nationals...

MLB: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Hellickson waited for big league offers all winter, (after posting a 5.43 ERA, a 5.77 FIP, 2.58 BB/9, 5.27 K/9, and a .250/.312/.497 line against in 164 innings for Baltimore and Philadelphia in 2017), before finally accepting a minor league deal with Washington.

Earlier this season, the 31-year-old, nine-year veteran said he had something to prove after he faced the Orioles for the first time as part of the Nationals’ rotation.

“I just had a little bit of motivation the way the offseason played out,” Hellickson explained.

“I would have liked to pitch a little better last year [with the Orioles].”

Saturday night in Citizens Bank Park, he was going up against the Phillies who traded him to the O’s before the non-waiver trade deadline last July.

After getting pounded in his one rehab start (nine hits, three walks, and 11 ER in 4 2⁄3 IP on 83 pitches at High-A Potomac), Hellickson tossed two scoreless against the Phillies on a total of 46 pitches in his return to the Nationals’ rotation, working around a leadoff single and a two-out walk in the Phillies’ first and a one-out triple in the second.

Odubel Herrera took Hellickson deep in the the third, however, crushing a 2-1 fastball and hitting a game-tying solo shot into the right field stands for his 14th of 2018, 1-1, and back-to-back-to-back, two-out doubles in the fourth gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead.

Hellickson was up to 98 pitches with two on and two out in the Phillies’ fifth when Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez went to the bullpen.

Jeremy Hellickson’s Line: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 98 P, 57 S, 3/4 GO/FO.

Anthony Rendon got the Nationals within one with a solo home run in the top of the sixth, but the Phillies held on for a 3-2 win, with Hellickson taking the loss to snap his unbeaten streak at nine-straight starts since he was called up in mid-April.

Hellickson, who acknowledged that his, “command was pretty shaky,” and the, “command really wasn’t there,” in his rehab start, struggled with both his control and command again against the Phillies.

“Yeah [control and command] was a little bit off,” Martinez told reporters after the second loss in the first three of four in Citizens Bank, “... but he kept us in the game. Three [runs]. Wanted to keep him around that 100-pitch mark and he did that for us.”