Phillies Notes: Trade Candidate Jeremy Hellickson Scratched From Start

Jeremy Hellickson, the subject of trade speculation, was scratched from Friday's start against the Atlanta Braves about 20 minutes before the scheduled start time.

Hellickson's place was taken by right-hander Jake Thompson, who made his first start of the season.

Hellickson, a veteran righty, is 6-5 with a 4.73 ERA. He is in the final year of his contract with the Phillies.

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Thompson was 0-0 with a 9.00 ERA in three relief appearances entering the game. He made 10 starts as a rookie in 2016, going 3-6 with a 5.70 ERA.

A second-round pick of Detroit in 2012, Thompson was dealt to the Texas Rangers in July 2014. The Phillies acquired him on July 31, 2015, in the Cole Hamels trade.

Roster shuffle
The word of the day, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin joked before Friday's game, was "dilemma."

He used that to describe the personnel situation facing him in the bullpen, and two others he might face at first base and in the outfield.

He was first asked about a potential outfield logjam, which might be alleviated to some degree if (as expected) Howie Kendrick, the .340-hitting veteran, is dealt before Monday's non-waiver trade deadline.

If Kendrick remains on the roster, Mackanin said, "That would be a problem."

Then he caught himself.

"I wouldn't use that word," he said. "It would be a dilemma. Not a peccadillo, a dilemma. If and when that happens, then I'll deal with it. I'll worry about it then. I don't want to worry about it now."

He did add that it is "an option" to use Kendrick at second base on occasion, though Cesar Hernandez will see the majority of the action there.

Then Mackanin fielded a question about who might fill the seventh-inning role previously manned by Pat Neshek, who was traded to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday.

"It's another dilemma," Mackanin said, though he then talked glowingly about the work of Luis Garcia, who before Friday was 1-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 39 games this season.

Garcia began the night with a scoreless-inning streak of 20 1/3, a career long. It was also the longest active streak in the majors, and the longest by a Phillies pitcher since Aaron Nola went 23 straight without allowing a run early last season.

"Garcia's an interesting candidate (for Neshek's old role), because he's been pitching so well," Mackanin said. "I look at his last eight or 10 outings. Whereas in the past he'd be 25 pitches or more, every time he threw an inning, now he's under 15 pitches just about every time out … which shows you that he's comfortable throwing strikes, attacking the hitters."

Then there is the matter of Hector Neris, who has struggled in the ninth inning but pitched well in all other situations. It's possible Mackanin could reshuffle the deck there, too.

"But then who goes into that closer role?" he asked. "You've got (Joaquin) Benoit and you've got Garcia, but here we go - it's another iffy thing."

And finally, first base. Rhys Hoskins figures to be promoted from Triple A Lehigh Valley at some point, but Tommy Joseph - like Hoskins, a right-handed power hitter - has batted .255 with 36 homers and 95 RBIs in 655 at-bats since his promotion last year, roughly the equivalent of a full season.

Mackanin called Joseph's production "pretty darn good" before offering a hypothetical.

"So let's say … you just say we're going to move on and we're going to go to Rhys Hoskins," he said, "and Rhys Hoskins puts up the same numbers. Everybody's going to be thrilled, because it's his first year in the big leagues. Well, this is Tommy's first year in the big leagues, so it's another dilemma."

They continue to add up for Mackanin.

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