Sad news. The man they call “King Felix” was dethroned on Friday. On Thursday, the Mariners were undecided on a starter for Sunday’s matchup with the Astros. Wasting no time, they came out on Friday and announced that former Cy Young award winner Felix Hernandez was demoted to the bullpen. Let’s ask Hernandez how he feels about his demotion:
“I got nothing to say,” Hernandez said.
Can you tell how excited he is? That was the quote he gave the Mariners media on Friday upon talking to manager Scott Servais about the demotion. Hernandez hasn’t really done anything to help his case this year as he comes in with an ERA of 5.73 through 23 starts. His WHIP is sitting at 1.43 and he is giving up 9.6 hits per 9 innings while throwing 124 total innings this year. To say the least, we have seen much better from him.
Last year, a shoulder injury hindered Hernandez’s production as he only threw 86 innings but had a 4.36 ERA. Not terrible, but not something we’re used to from him. So this off-season he took a new approach to try and avoid further problems by focusing on flexibility rather than heavier lifting. Bad results. Does Felix need to go back to benching and squats to get regain his 2014 form? Who knows. All I know is the Mariners need him to figure something out, quick.
The Mariners cannot afford to keep running Hernandez out there. Even with a great track record, including a Cy Young at the age of 24 in 2010, in which he was not even on the all-star team that year, he is not getting it done at a time the team needs him. Right now, the Mariners are 2.5 games out of the 2nd Wild Card spot for the American League. The Mariners have given Hernandez time to figure it out, and for some reason, this year is not his year. Maybe he can regain some confidence in his pitches with some time in the bullpen and help his team out if they make a playoff run.
For now, after 398 career starts, Hernandez will be making his first ever career relief appearance when the Mariners decide the time is right to bring him in the game. Just four years ago in 2014, we saw Hernandez lead the league with his 2.14 ERA and allowing the least amount of hits per 9 innings with a stingy 6.43 hits given up. Now we’re looking at a 32 year old who just doesn’t quite have the same zip he used too. Hopefully for the Mariners sake, he can figure something out in the bullpen to be of use to the Mariners down the last month and half stretch of the season.