Watching Felix Hernandez the last few years has been painful. “The King” has looked more like a Jester with an ERA that has ticked up from an AL low 2.14 in 2014 to a present-day 6.52. It all screams a pitcher in decline with no end in sight.
The Mariners had all kinds of ideas to help Felix find himself this season: throwing more curveballs, throwing his declining changeup less. It worked for a while and he was electric in April striking out 29 hitters with just four walks in 31 innings. In just seven May innings, he walked four and gave up four dingers as the Mariners schedule got more difficult and their defense got progressively worse behind him.
While some people hope to see Felix give it one last hurrah in a Mariners uniform during this lost season, I wouldn’t mind if he shuts it down. He’s struggled against minor leaguers in his rehab assignments and continues to speak of discomfort in his arm.
In this season that is about the Mariners finding out what they have going forward, it’s pretty clear Felix doesn’t figure much into those plans.
A CBS report notes Felix is throwing and playing catch and could return to the mound after the All-Star break. But is it wrong to hope Felix doesn’t bother?
Yusei Kikuchi and Marco Gonzalez are the mainstays of the rotation, Wade LeBlanc and Tommy Milone have pitched well with the Mariners employing an opener before their outings. While the team could trade Mike Leake, they have already pulled out of one deal for Leake and could always trade him in the offseason when he has less money remaining on his deal.
The more Felix struggles, the grumbles will only get louder. Personally, I would hope people never forget the Cy Young trophy, the grand slam off Johan Santana or him re-signing with the team when no one would have blamed him for going to a winner.
Hernandez should be remembered as the guy who exceeded expectations in a franchise renown for underperforming, not the shell of himself who looks overmatched against major league hitters.