Jeremy Hellickson: Jerad Eickhoff ‘Probably Deserved’ To Be Opening Day Starter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For the second straight season, Jeremy Hellickson will be the Opening Day starter for the Phillies.

Hellickson, 29, accepted the Phillies’ $17.2 qualifying offer after an impressive 12-10 season with a 3.71 ERA. The only 2016 Phillies pitcher to have a lower ERA was 26-year-old righty Jerad Eickhoff (3.65), who Hellickson actually believes deserved to be the Opening Day starter.

Related: 5 Phillies Players To Watch This Spring Training

“There’s another guy on our staff who probably deserved it a little more, in my opinion,” Hellickson said via Phillies.com. “What [Eickhoff] did last year was pretty remarkable for his first full year. I would have loved to have seen him get it. But I see plenty of Opening Day starts in his future.”

“We talked [Eickhoff] but we just felt [Hellickson] was the right thing to do for a number of reasons,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “Eickhoff is certainly a darn good starting pitcher. As are the other guys.”

Related: Pete Mackanin: ‘I Feel Like We Can Play .500′

The Phillies open the 2017 season on Monday, April 3rd in Cincinnati vs. the Reds at 4:00 p.m. Their home opener is Friday, April 7th at 3:05 p.m. vs. the Nationals.

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