The right-hander was sent to Class A Charlotte on Tuesday, a day after he allowed five runs and seven hits in only 2 2/3 innings in a loss to the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Rays manager Joe Maddon emphasized that Hellickson is well physically but giving the 26-year-old a break would be beneficial.
"Just primarily to give him a little bit of a rest," Maddon said. "He's well physically. We just thought that giving him a little bit of a break would be very important right now. Obviously, the more recent performances have not been great and the fact that he's not injured, we thought the next-best thing to do would be to give him a little bit of a break. So we did that."
The mental rest could serve Hellickson well. Maddon said Hellickson will not make a start for the Stone Crabs, based in Port Charlotte, Fla., but a bullpen session is possible. Hellickson is 10-8 with a 5.21 ERA in 27 starts this season, but he has lost his last five decisions and is 0-4 with a 9.15 ERA in five August appearances.
This has been an inconsistent season for the fourth-year major-leaguer. He started 2-2 with a 5.61 ERA in his first 11 appearances before stabilizing to win eight of his next nine decisions, including six consecutive from June 19-July 26. Since a loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 31, in which he lasted 4 1/3 innings, he has failed to reach the sixth inning in five of his last six starts.
Maddon anticipates Hellickson's stay in Port Charlotte to be short, about a week. Reliever Jeff Beliveau was called up from Triple-A Durham, but options are still being discussed for the Rays’ starter Saturday against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum, which would have been Hellickson's day to pitch.
"He’ll be ready to come back in the first part of September," Maddon said. "We think or feel as though he’s going to be very important to us in September and October."