As you may have seen, Jeremy Hellickson made his spring debut on Friday against the Yankees. Luckily for us it was on TV, so we have some video to look over how he did.
He entered the game in the 2nd inning with 2 out and 2 men on, facing Francisco Cervelli. His first pitch was a fastball low, and then another fastball away(YES's gun had it at 93 mph) to fall behind 2-0. His next pitch was a fastball middle-away at 92 mph that Cervelli swung and missed on. Nick Swisher over at 1B had fallen down getting his secondary lead and got picked off by the snap throw, so Hellickson was out of the inning.
So in the 3rd, he faced Cervelli again, starting with a clean slate. He started off with a fastball off the plate, then got a swing and miss at a fastball(91 mph) almost right down the middle. His next pitch was a fastball in(92 mph), maybe off the plate, that Cervelli swung at and foul tipped into Navarro's glove. Ahead 1-2, he went away with another fastball(92 mph) which Cervelli fouled off. Yet another fastball(92 mph again, and now 8 fastballs in a row to Cervelli) missed inside to make the count 2-2. He went to his change-up for the first time(80 mph), but Cervelli laid off as it hit the dirt. Another fastball(93 mph) got fouled back to the screen before Cervelli went down and got a 92 mph fastball that was over the plate and took it to left field, where Sean Rodriguez had some fun with it.
So with a runner on 3rd and none out, Derek Jeter came up. He got a first-pitch strike on a fastball(92 mph) at the knees, almost identical to the pitch Cervelli just hit, maybe a touch lower. This time he went to the change-up sooner, but Jeter laid off to make it a 1-1 count. The 1-1 fastball(93 mph) got in on Jeter, and he fought it off foul to the right side. On 1-2, he threw his first curveball of the day, a 78-mph offering that darted low and out of the zone, drawing an awkward swing and miss from Jeter(click here to view it in gif form)
The next batter was Curtis Granderson. Hellickson started the lefty out with a change-up(79 mph) down in the zone for a called strike. The next pitch was a fastball(92 mph) low in the zone that Granderson chopped right into the ground, back to Hellickson. He looked the runner back and made the throw to first for 2 outs.
Hellickson's final batter was Mark Teixeira, batting from the left side. A first-pitch fastball(92 mph) just missed inside, then a change-up(81 mph) in the dirt and a fastball(92 mph) wide made it 3-0. With first base open, I figured he might not give Teixeira anything in the zone, but Hellickson got a fastball over to make it 3-1. He hit the outside corner with another fastball(92 mph) to make the count full at 3-2. On 3-2, he threw his change-up down and in, out of the zone, but Teixeira chased it for Hellickson's second strikeout.
Now obviously it's Spring Training, the third game no less, so you can't draw too many conclusions. But he looked pretty true to his scouting report. His fastball in the low-90s got some swings and misses even though he left it out over the plate a few times. This tells us that a) hitters aren't yet in mid-season form and/or b) there's a little bit of deception with how he delivers it. I'm inclined to think it's a little of both. The only curveball he threw was very impressive, and while his command of the change-up was a little shaky, it showed real promise. To me, the stuff looked legit, but the control/command was a little bit off, which is not unexpected in early March. I also like how he came back from a mis-played ball by a fielder to get out the Yankees 1-2-3 hitters(again, it's early March, but still) out without allowing the run to score.