The Orioles need someone to give them a chance to win every five days and they’re frustrated with a rotation that keeps providing early deficits and is lugging a 5.98 ERA.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette sent outfielder Hyun Soo Kim, Double-A Bowie left-hander Garret Cleavinger and international signing bonus slots to the Phillies for a veteran starter who can become a free agent following the season. A potential rental for a team struggling to stay in fourth place.
Hellickson may not be a long-term solution, but the Orioles needed to address the present mess, which thickened last night after Chris Tillman was charged with eight runs in 4 1/3 innings.
The loss left the Orioles six games below .500 again, 6 ½ out of the second wild card and 7 ½ out of first place. They’re only a half-game ahead of the last-place Blue Jays.
“We’d like to be competitive,” Duquette said this morning. “Nobody’s running away with the American League. We’ve got our bullpen back. If we can get some stability to our starting pitching, the rest of our team is intact.
“Hellickson has been a consistent performer and very competitive. He’s competed in the American League East, so he’s already proven that he can do that. He’s been an effective, reliable pitcher.”
The Orioles have been in scramble mode all season to find a guy who fits the description. Tillman threw 101 pitches last night, only 56 for strikes, in 4 1/3 innings and was down 2-0 only three batters into the game.
Hellickson is a fly ball pitcher with a 5.01 ERA and 1.543 WHIP in nine career games (eight starts) at Camden Yards. However, he owns a career 3.98 ERA in eight major league seasons and his current 4.73 ERA is the second-lowest on the Orioles staff.
“We’re still talking to a number of clubs,” Duquette said. “There’s a lot of interest in our bullpen pitchers.
“We’re always trying to tweak our roster, upgrade our roster. There are different times to do that. But we want to be as competitive as we can all the time.”
The Orioles will reveal later today how Hellickson fits into the rotation. They have an extra pitcher and are short a bench player.
“There are plenty of opportunities to stabilize our rotation,” Duquette said. “Hellickson’s proven to be a real stable force. There’s plenty of opportunities to pitch well in our rotation.
“We’ve got a lot of guys in the rotation who can pitch better than they’re pitching, and Hellickson’s shown that he can be a dependable pitcher.”
Asked whether someone could go on the disabled list to open a spot for Hellickson, Duquette replied, “I don’t know that anybody is hurt.”
Kim barely got off the bench this season, appearing in 56 games and batting .232/.305/.288 in 141 plate appearances. He led the team last summer with a .302 average and .382 on-base percentage.
“With the emergence of Trey Mancini as a reliable everyday left fielder, that cost Kim some at-bats,” Duquette said. “The on-base capability that he showed last year and the ability to hit velocity, he probably didn’t have enough at-bats to sustain that with the way Mancini played as an everyday player.”