Hellickson seeking return to form

Hellickson seeking return to form

PHILADELPHIA -- Jeremy Hellickson bet on himself that he could replicate the success he had in 2016.

His May has hindered those efforts. He allowed seven runs in the third inning Wednesday night in a 7-2 loss to the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park as the Phillies lost for the 20th time in 24 games. Hellickson went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts in April, but he is 1-2 with a 7.30 ERA in five starts this month. He has pitched more than five innings only once in May.

"I don't think he feels like himself on the mound," Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp said. "When he's going well and feeling good he can put the ball where he wants to, and I don't think he feels like he can do that right now. We're trying to pitch our way out of some jams. Some mistakes have hurt us, but it's in there. We'll find it."

Hellickson's May woes mirror the rest of the Phillies' starters. They have a 6.39 ERA in May.

Only the Mets' rotation (6.42) has been worse.

"I have confidence in all five of us," Hellickson said. "We're definitely better than what we are doing right now. You can say that all you want, but you have to go out and be better."

Hellickson accepted the Phillies' qualifying offer last offseason, passing on free agency to sign a one-year, $17.2 million contract. He figured without a compensatory Draft pick tied to him this offseason, he will sign the lucrative multi-year deal he wants.

He certainly has plenty of time to right the ship, but no doubt he would have preferred to avoid this type of month altogether.

It has not been a good couple of months for most of the other Phillies' veterans. The Phillies figured they could flip some of them to contending teams in July, boosting their play during the first few months of the season while aiding their rebuild.

But Clay Buchholz likely will miss the rest of the season after just two starts, Howie Kendrick has not played since April 15 because of a strained right abdomen (although he could return next week), Michael Saunders has dropped to eighth in the lineup and Joaquin Benoit (4.26 ERA in 20 appearances) has not solidified the back of the bullpen as expected.

Only Pat Neshek (1.10 ERA in 18 appearances) has performed as expected or better.

"It's not easy," Hellickson said on how the team is dealing with the losing. "It's not fun. It's just something you deal with."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.