Seattle's pathetic lineup shut out as Felix Hernandez takes a "loss" in 1-0 game

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I really hope some of the Baseball Writers Association of America members and Cy Young award voters who still focus on a pitcher’s win total watched this afternoon’s Mariners-Blue Jays game.
Felix Hernandez tossed a complete game, allowing one run on two hits in eight innings, and got saddled with a “loss” because Seattle’s historically inept offense was shut out by five Toronto pitchers.
Hernandez is now 12-12 despite a league-best 2.31 ERA in a league-high 242 innings. Clearly he just doesn’t “know how to win.”
After all, if Mariners catcher Adam Moore had hit a double with two runners on base in the eighth inning instead of taking a called third strike right down the middle of the plate, clearly that would make Felix Hernandez a better pitcher and more deserving of the Cy Young award. Or something
Or if the Mariners’ hitters could have rallied in the ninth inning off Blue Jays closer Kevin Gregg, that would have turned Hernandez’s “loss” into a “no-decision” or even a “win.” You know, because things that happen after a pitcher throws his final pitch are crucial to evaluating his performance. Or something.
How pathetic, both for the Mariners’ offense and for anyone who still relies on wins and losses to evaluate a pitcher. When eight innings of one-run ball equals a loss, then perhaps it’s time to reconsider how much weight you place on the concept of a “loss.” And when 242 innings of a 2.31 ERA equals 12 wins, maybe it’s time to do the same with the notion of a “win.”
Today marked the fifth time this season Hernandez has failed to get a “win” while allowing zero or one run in seven-plus innings and the 14th time this season he’s failed to get a “win” while throwing a Quality Start. And he’s still yet to get a “win” when allowing more than two runs, because his teammates rarely score more than two runs. For comparison, CC Sabathia has seven wins while allowing more than two runs. In totally unrelated news, the Yankees’ lineup leads the league in scoring.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.