After having his best season while with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2016, Jeremy Hellickson has decided to extend that partnership by accepting the team’s $17.2 million qualifying offer.  

The Phillies announced the news on Monday after Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball first reported the decision.

Hellickson’s 2016 season flew under the radar because the Phillies were bad, but he quietly turned in the best season of his seven-year career.

One of the big keys for Hellickson’s success last season was staying healthy, which has been a problem for him since 2014, and something he acknowledged in September. 

“I’ve felt good every time out,” Hellickson said, via Corey Seidman of “Felt good in between starts. I’m recovering like I was early in my career.”

Hellickson doesn’t have top-of-the-rotation stuff with a fastball that FanGraphs clocked at an average of 90.0 mph in 2016, but he’s able to find different ways to succeed without posting gaudy strikeout numbers. 

His ground-ball percentage each of the last two seasons has been over 40 percent, per FanGraphs. The difference between his 2015 and 2016 performances was he got out of the hitter-friendly confines afforded by the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chase Field. 

With the Phillies still in a rebuilding mode but boasting talent at the MLB level like Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera with more coming through the pipeline, like shortstop J.P. Crawford, it’s not inconceivable that there will be a return to relevance soon. 

Starting pitching was an area the Phillies were severely lacking last season. Hellickson and Jerad Eickhoff were the only pitchers to make at least 25 starts and total over 135 innings.

For Hellickson, still just 29 years old, remaining with a franchise that helped him turn in his best season as they continue to add talent and get better makes sense. He will be a stabilizing force in the rotation for the Phillies as they continue to look for those key pieces that will help them become a dominant force in the National League East. 

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