Tuesday, August 03, 2010
What does Hellickson throw? I don’t know.Posted by Mike Fast
I'm looking for a little scouting help here.
Jeremy Hellickson made his major league debut for the Tampa Bay Rays last night, tossing seven frames, striking out six and allowing only two runs on three hits to help his team pick up the victory over Carl Pavano and the Minnesota Twins. The win was an key one, pulling the Rays into a first-place tie with the New York Yankees for the first time since June 19.
The PITCHf/x data shows us that Hellickson threw a fastball, change-up, and curveball against Twins in his debut, so that much I know. However, not very many game pictures are available yet online of Hellickson pitching in his debut, and that's what I'm really curious about. I want to see Hellickson's pitch grips. I did find this nice shot of him throwing a four-seam fastball against the Twins.
So I decided to look through the record of his minor league days for photos of his other pitches. There are plenty more images of his four-seam fastball grip, but otherwise, I've run into some confusion. I did find a very nice description of Hellickson's repertoire and approach from his time at Durham in this article by Adam Sobsey. In the article Hellickson mentions adding a cut fastball this year and experimenting with a two-seam fastball.
I've not been able to find pictures of Hellickson throwing a cutter or a two-seamer, but I haven't been able to find many good pictures of him pitching at Durham, so that may explain that.
What I have found is a cornucopia of different pitches that look like change-ups to me. Either Hellickson throws or experiments with a lot of different change-up grips, or I'm missing something about his off-speed repertoire. There's the picture I've included here of what looks like a circle change-up from the Futures Game three weeks ago.
Then we have another picture of what looks like a circle change-up taken at Durham in 2009. So Hellickson throws the circle change, right?
Well, maybe. Because then there's this picture from Durham earlier this year where he's throwing what looks like a cross between a three-finger change-up and a circle change-up--it would be a circle change except that he's tucked his thumb under the baseball. There's another shot of a sort of hybrid change-up from his days with the Columbus Catfish in 2007.
Apparently, he learned his change-up from Rays minor league pitching instructor and former major leaguer Dick Bosman.
Then there's this pitch, with the picture taken in spring training in 2008. I think that might be his breaking ball, but frankly I'm not sure. It would appear that he also used that pitch last night against the Twins, if this picture from the Tampa Tribune is any indication. I could convince myself that's a change-up rather than a curveball, particularly looking at the 2008 image, but either way, it's a grip I don't think I've seen before.
So I don't know what to say about Hellickson's pitch grips. Rays fans and pitch grip experts, help me out here.
Mike Fast is a Royals fan who enjoys investigating baseball questions using data of many sorts. He is a member of Complete Game Consulting. He welcomes comments via e-mail.