Fun time is over; the Twins have won eight straight against the dregs of the American League, but now they begin a ten-game road trip in Tampa Bay against the just-as-red-hot Rays. Tampa has won nine of 11, including a seven-game winning streak against Cleveland and Detroit, and is just one game out of the AL East lead. The Rays are the second-best team in baseball; the days of going into Tampa and hoping for a four-game sweep are over.
#58 / Pitcher / Tampa Bay Rays
Apr 08, 1987
Hellickson makes his major league debut tonight, as the Rays have called him up to give their starting staff an extra day of rest. If you just did a mental fist pump, thinking, "All right, a chance to tee off!" - think again. If Hellickson was in almost anybody else's system, he'd be in the majors by now. He's 12-3 with a 2.45 ERA at Triple-A Durham this year, one year after posting virtually identical numbers in Durham over a half-season. He strikes out more than a batter per inning. He doesn't walk many. MLB.com thought he was the 20th-best prospect in baseball; check out that link for clips of a nasty changeup, which he'll throw along with a mid-90s fastball and a curve.
This kid is the real deal... and the Rays still plan to send him down after the game. That's how loaded their rotation is.
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PAVSTACHE has won four consecutive starts, in which he's thrown two complete games and given up just six runs in over 30 innings. About the only downside is that his presence on the mound now brings Drew Butera into the batting order.