The Marlins don’t need to ask their pro scouts whether Jeremy Hellickson is a pitcher worth trading for. Just ask the Marlins hitters what they thought of him.
Hellickson caused two — Derek Dietrich and Marcell Ozuna — to slam their bats in frustration after striking out against him in Wednesday night’s 4-1 loss to the Phillies.
It was that kind of night for the Marlins, who were unable to pull off a third consecutive win over the Phillies.
Hellickson had a lot to do with that.
“We’ve faced him before, so we know what we’re getting,” said Chris Johnson, who accounted for the Marlins’ only run with his solo homer in the fifth. “He’s got a really good changeup. That’s his best pitch.”
It’s those types of pitchers who seem to cause the Marlins the most trouble.
“[Hellickson’s] a guy that’s got a good mix with his changeup,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We’ve really had trouble with the guy that’s able to change speeds like that and kind of yo-yo us. [Adam] Wainwright did it to us the other day.”
The Marlins are among a host of teams looking at the 29-year-old right-hander as a potential target leading up to the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline. Hellickson made a favorable impression on Wednesday, holding the Marlins to a run on five hits over eight innings.
The Marlins have had only one of their pitchers go eight innings all season — Adam Conley on June 22 — and are in dire need of a starter capable of giving them more than five or six innings a crack.
While the Marlins have won two of three in a series that wraps up on Thursday night, they’ve struggled against the Phillies starters, mustering only two runs off them in 21 combined innings. Both runs were solo homers.
“You win the first two, but you look back and say we really haven’t done much with them,” Mattingly said of two low-scoring, extra-inning wins to start the series. “We’re not able to do enough. Offensively, we’ve been able to win two out of three but really haven’t been able to score that many runs.”
The Marlins have scored a total of six runs in the three games.
Their only run off Hellickson came on Johnson’s fourth homer. Hellickson (7-7) struck out eight without walking a batter.
Wei-Yin Chen (5-4) wasn’t equal to the challenge. Chen gave up 11 hits and all four Philadelphia runs before coming out in the sixth. It was the second time this season Chen has given up 11 hits to the Phillies.
“Why they hit me that well, I really don’t have an explanation,” Chen said of the Phillies, who have scored the second-fewest runs in the majors.
But the Phillies were on the attack early. Tyler Goeddel tagged Chen in the first with a two-run homer, the 20th homer allowed this season by the Marlins’ prize offseason acquisition.
One inning later, Goeddel made it 3-0 with an RBI single off Chen.
Johnson’s homer made it 3-1, but the Phillies got it back in the sixth with another run off Chen and the Marlins were unable to mount a comeback.
“They’ve done a good job,” Johnson said of the Phillies starters the Marlins have faced so far in the series. “I think that’s a testament to our pitching staff, too, in keeping it close.”
Johnson tried to look on the bright side.
“We have an opportunity to win the series [Thursday] and it’ll be a good road trip,” he said.