Washington Nationals: Jeremy Hellickson set to retire

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 19: Jeremy Hellickson #58 of the Washington Nationals looks on against the Chicago Cubs during the third inning at Nationals Park on May 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 19: Jeremy Hellickson #58 of the Washington Nationals looks on against the Chicago Cubs during the third inning at Nationals Park on May 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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One time top prospect Jeremy Hellickson has decided to retire after spending most of the past two seasons with the Washington Nationals.

The Washington Nationals had hoped that Jeremy Hellickson would be the answer to the woes in the back of their rotation heading into last year. He had performed admirably in 2018, a minor league signing that had worked wonders after being unceremoniously dumped by the Orioles. However, shoulder issues ruined his 2019 campaign, as he did not make nearly the impact that Washington had hoped for.

After a setback in his rehab, which was bad enough to necessitate another surgery if he wanted to pitch again, Hellickson has had enough. He has decided to retire, leaving the game after ten relatively solid seasons.

A former consensus top ten prospect, Hellickson was expected to become the next star pitcher for the Rays. He certainly looked the part in his first full season in 2011, posting a 13-10 record, along with a 2.95 ERA and a 1.153 WHiP. There were warning signs that he would not continue to perform at that level, as he had a 4.44 FIP, but that could also be chalked up to a young pitcher learning the ropes.

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Hellickson managed to hold regression off for another season in 2012, putting together another strong campaign. Although his ERA rose to 3.10 and he posted a 10-11 record, Hellickson still had a solid year. He won the pitching Gold Glove award, and still looked to be on that upward track.

In the end, regression did catch up to the former top prospect. He struggled in 2013, and was never able to quite return to the level of his first two seasons. Hellickson did have some moments of success, with a strong 2016 campaign and a solid run with the Nationals in 2018, but never put it all back together again.

He closes his ten year career with a 76-75 record, posting a 4.13 ERA and a 1.253 WHiP. In his 1269.1 innings, he struck out 929 batters with just 385 walks. Yet, even those numbers show what held Hellickson back over his career – a lack of a true out pitch that he could utilize to get that strikeout when he needed it most. He became a solid back of the rotation arm, but based on his top prospect billing and first two seasons, the end result has to be considered a bit of a disappointment.

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After ten years in the majors, the last year and a half with the Washington Nationals, Jeremy Hellickson has retired. As good as his career was, one has to wonder what it could have been.