In the past I've viewed Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson as the potential reincarnation (not literally!) of Cubs/Braves great Greg Maddux.
So it's been frustrating watching Hellickson struggle his way to a 12-10 record and an ERA in excess of 5.0 in 2013. And it causes me to raise an eyebrow or two at the coaches' decision to use rookie pitcher Chris Archer (9-7, 3.22) in relief while using Hellickson as the fourth starter during the playoffs.
GM Joe Maddon and company have to see something in Hellickson at this point in the season that's eluding me.
It's not that I think Hellickson can't pitch well. I viewed him as the No. 2 starter for the Rays entering the 2013 season. So far it hasn't panned out that way. But beating the Red Sox tonight will do a great deal to make his performance this season look good. I hope Maddon is right on this one.
Update 12:31 a.m.
Hellickson cruised through the first inning before getting lifted from the game during the 2nd inning jam he helped create. The bullpen sustained a shutout through the 7th inning, when the Red Sox scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead. The Rays didn't score after that.
Game over, season over. And the game was akin to the season. Boston played consistently well (still hate 'em; this is just respect) and the Rays played spotty. Pitching wasn't the strength it should have been, and the batting lineup was dotted with severe slumps from key players.
Go A's or some other team I hate less than Boston. The lower the payroll the better.