There’s still a few days left in the first month of baseball, but as the team gets ready for their series with the Dodgers, it’s already clear which player has been the team’s star player.
It’s been an interesting April so far for the Phillies. They came into the season with low expectations but also something to prove after another sub-.500 season. So far, they’re 11-9 and riding high on a six-game win streak.
On offense, they rank 10th in batting average at .253, despite starters like Cameron Rupp hitting .170 and Tommy Joseph hitting .203. Aaron Altherr has been a pleasant surprise early, batting .351 with six RBIs and Howie Kendrick looks like a great addition, hitting .333.
Pitching wise, your head snaps at the starting rotation. Clay Buccholz has been everything he was in Boston—inconsistent at best and prone to injury. But Jerad Eickhoff, Zach Eflin and Vince Valasquez look promising, even if it is only a month into the season.
But if you had to choose one person as the Phillie of the month, look no further than Jeremy Hellickson.
Yeah, bet you weren’t expecting that. Unless you knew his stats.
The 30-year-old is a perfect 4-0 on the season in five starts. His ERA is a dominant 1.80, opponents are batting a measly .194 and his WHIP? .80.
It’s a great way to start the year for the righty after a season that he posted a 12-10 record with a 3.71 ERA, 1.15 WHIP with batters going .243.
It almost feels weird to pick a starting pitcher as the Player of the Month for the sole reason that he’s played in just five games. But compare his numbers against the Phillies pitching staff, and you can see why.
The team’s staff is allowing hitters to hit .242 (13th), an ERA of 4.08 (21st) and a WHIP of 1.24 (10th). Overall, the group is middling with a good ability to keep guys from hitting and keeping walks relatively low. Their problem? The long ball, as they’ve let up 29, more than just a handful of teams.
But Hellickson? No such problems. Yes, his 11 strikeouts is oddly low for pitching 30 innings, but he’s only walked three batters and let up two dingers. The fact that he’s struck out so few batters is only slightly concerning, because it means guys are making contact. At some point, that can end up turning into hits. But right now, they’re hitting into outs, which is all you can ask for at the end of the day.
The Phillies are a middle of the pack group offensively this year, so far knocking in 95 runs (14th), an average of 4.75 through the first 20 games. The fact that Hellickson is turning out so many quality starts gives the young squad a chance to fight.
It’s a good start to the year for the Phillies and Hellickson is a solid part of the equation why. Hopefully he, and the Fightins, can keep it up through the summer.