Felix Hernandez is widely regarded as one of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues. He has some of the best “stuff” in the league, stuff that often leads to great results for him, and in turn his Seattle Mariners.
But everyone knows that the Mariner’s offense is and was one of the worst offenses in the league, often leading to no-decision after no decision for the King. He does his part, often keeping his ERA under 3.00, yet he ends up with very few wins. And many people recognized that, and thought Felix may want out of Seattle as soon as possible.
That turned out not to be the case, as he signed a 7 year, $175 million contract during the offseason, and has continued to pitch his heart out for the team and city he has come to love.
Last night though, there was a confusing and scary aberration in Mariner Land, especially for M’s fans like myself. Seattle jumped on Angel’s starter Tommy Hanson early, putting up 7 runs in the first two innings, a rare sight with the Mariners. That gave Felix some much-appreciated padding to go to work.
And then, for some unknown reason, Felix fell apart in the 5th inning. Through the first four frames, Felix looked mostly like Felix. He wasn’t at his best, giving up 2 runs on 5 hits, but he certainly wasn’t horrible. Then the 5th inning came, and Felix lost everything. His control, his location, his movement.
Everything vanished, and he gave up 5 runs on 7 hits, all in the 5th inning. Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo both homered, and were flanked by numerous other base hits. Felix no longer looked like Felix.
Prior to last night’s game, Felix was one of the best in the league, and on pace for a Cy Young caliber season. In 104.2 innings, Hernandez had a 2.32 ERA, 2.27 FIP, and 3.3 WAR, making him a clear front runner for the award, matched by very few.
After last night, however, Felix holds a 2.71 ERA, 2.50 FIP and 3.1 WAR, showing a sizable drop in his numbers. They are still very good, but the Angels certainly did some damage, especially to the ERA.
What does this mean for his Cy Young hopes? Well, probably not much. We are less than halfway through the season, and one bad start does not a player make. But if this is a sign of things to come, then there could be a problem for The King.
Fortunately though, there is no reason to believe that is the case. Everyone struggles from time to time. It is just so rare for someone like Felix Hernandez to struggle as much as he did last night, which is why it is news worthy. If you watched the game, or even the replay, it was almost impossible to fathom what was going on with the former Cy Young winner.
The Angels then went on to win the game 10-9, as the Mariners could not get their offense going in the late innings.