May 14, 2011, 8:50 AM EDT
We’ve seen some excellent performances from the likes of Michael Pineda and Zach Britton so far this season, so Jeremy Hellickson has somewhat flown under the radar among rookie starting pitchers in the American League. Not anymore.
Hellickson tossed his first career complete game shutout in a 4-0 win over the Orioles last night. The 24-year-old right-hander gave up just four hits — three of them singles — while fanning three and walking just one.
The rookie hurler needed 120 pitches to finish off the Orioles, which surpassed his previous career-high of 107 pitches from an outing against the Twins on April 28. Last night was the first time that Hellickson had tossed even more than seven innings in a game.
Now that he’s gone the distance, Rays manager Joe Maddon tells Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that Hellickson has merely scratched the surface on his potential.
“With a young pitcher like that, to throw a complete-game shutout can really catapult him into the next level,” Maddon said. “That’s the kind of moment right there that can really make Jeremy take off. … Because once you’ve done it, you know you can do it in the future and you know what it feels like to do it. … That’s a good way to teach yourself a lesson right there.”
Hellickson now sits at 4-2 with a 2.98 ERA and 30/18 K/BB ratio over his first seven starts this season. He hasn’t allowed an earned run over his last 14 innings.
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