Originally posted on MLB Buzz  |  Last updated 11/2/12
  The free-agent class of starting pitchers is weaker than in most years, making pitching-rich clubs such as Tampa Bay a popular target in trade discussions.   The Rays, in fact, are so deep in quality starters, it’s easy to overlook how good some of their pitchers are.   Case in point: Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.   Righty James Shields and lefty David Price are the Rays’ most accomplished starters. Lefty Matt Moore possesses the greatest upside. But over the past two seasons, Hellickson arguably has outperformed them all.   While Hellickson doesn’t record many strikeouts – his rate of 6.3 per nine innings last season was the ninth lowest in the AL – he produced a lower combined ERA and opponents’ batting average than both Shields and Price in 2011 and ’12.   The two-year breakdowns: ERA: Hellickson 3.02, Price 3.04, Shields 3.15.   OBA: Hellickson .227, Price .228, Shields .228.   Of course, Hellickson isn’t nearly the same type of workhorse as Shields and Price.
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