Recurring shoulder issues limited Felix Hernandez to just 16 starts last season and his performance when on the field was a far cry from the days of prime King Felix, with the right-hander posting his highest ERA in a decade. He was extremely homer prone, giving up 17 long balls in 86.2 innings, coinciding with another dip in groundball rate -- he's lost nearly 10 percentage points off his groundball rate over the past two seasons. His HR/FB rate was inflated at 22.4 percent, but he was up near 15 percent in the previous two seasons, and with the likelihood of a new ball in Major League Baseball, significant regression in that regard is far from a given. The Mariners plan to manage Hernandez differently next season to try to get him through 30 starts, possibly skipping him here or there while limiting his in-game pitch counts. That's probably a good thing for a player with 2,500 innings on his arm, but it just further limits an already severely-diminished ceiling.
General manager Jerry Dipoto said Hernandez will be managed differently next season to get him through 30 starts, Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Seattle reports. Hernandez showed more signs of slowing down this season, as injuries limited him to just 16 starts and 86.2 innings -- both his lowest totals since his shortened rookie campaign. He also posted an unremarkable 4.36 ERA, which is only better than the 4.52 ERA he posted in his first full season in the majors. While Dipoto believes Hernandez is going to do everything he can in the offseason, he thinks the 31-year-old may benefit from some down time or an occasional skipped start next season to keep him fresh. A clearer plan will likely be hashed out in the offseason.
Hernandez will not start again this season, Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Seattle reports. Fernandez was on top of his game in his last start, giving up just two hits and one earned run over six innings. With the Mariners out of the playoff race, the team decided that was a good way to finish his campaign. Fernandez made just 16 starts for the Mariners in 2017, but with him able to finish out the season on the mound, he will have a normal offseason as he prepares for next year.
Hernandez (6-5) held the Athletics at bay to pick up the win Monday night, allowing one run on two hits and two walks across six innings of work. He struck out two. There was nothing flashy about King Felix's outing, but it's hard to argue with the results. He threw 46 of his 70 pitches for strikes and was only touched up for a solo home run in his final inning. Hernandez is on track to make one more start this season, but with the Mariners already eliminated from the postseason chase, the team could opt to let him head into the offseason on a high note and focus on getting healthy for 2018. If he does make one final start, he would take his 4.36 ERA into Sunday's matchup with the Angels.
Hernandez (5-5) took the loss Wednesday against the Rangers, surrendering six runs (five earned) on only two hits and three walks while striking out four. Encouragingly, he was perfect through the first three innings, but the wheels came off in the fourth as the first five Rangers reached base and Hernandez exited with the bases loaded, only to watch Andrew Albers serve up a grand slam to Rougned Odor in his place. King Felix will take a 4.57 ERA into his next start Monday in Oakland.
Hernandez could see up to three more starts before the end of the regular season, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. Hernandez fired 3.2 innings against the Rangers in his Thursday return from a shoulder injury and could potentially have three more opportunities to build his strength back up. The Mariners remain 3.5 games behind the Twins for a wild-card spot, and there's a possibility that Hernandez will take the mound twice in what could be pivotal season-ending road trip. He'll make his next start in a rematch versus the Rangers next Wednesday, when he'll try to go beyond the 54 pitches he threw in his first start back.