Hellickson set for major league debut on Monday

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As Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times first reported, the Rays have decided to promote top pitching prospect Jeremy Hellickson for a one-time spot start on Monday against the Twins.  Whether he sticks around to pitch out of the bullpen remains to be seen, but it would make some sense.  For now he is simply going to provide the entire Rays’ starting rotation with an extra day of rest.

Hellickson, a 23-year-old right-hander, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 draft and has posted fantastic numbers at every stop in the minor leagues. 

He had a 1.09 WHIP and a 2.67 ERA over 111 innings at Single-A Columbus in 2007.  Then in 2008 he rattled off 162 strikeouts in 152 innings between Single-A and Double-A, walking just 20.  In 2009 he finished with an incredible 0.89 WHIP over 114 innings including a 0.80 WHIP over his first 57.1 innings with Triple-A Durham.  This year he has fanned 123 batters in 117.2 innings at Durham for a 12-3 record and a 2.45 ERA.  Needless to say, the kid is ready.

The Rays have been hesitant to give Hellickson the call this year because the starting five in Tampa has looked great and has been able to avoid injury.  Yes, even Wade Davis has pitched well enough to deserve his spot.  Hellickson will almost certainly be a factor heading into 2011, though, and he could have a slight impact in this year’s race to the American League pennant.  Onward, Rays.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

Minnesota Twis v Kansas City Royals
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.