King Felix spins another beaut

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Clay Buchholz is, without question, the early leader for the Cy Young Award. But there are a lot of good pitchers in the AL who stand to take the lead if Buchholz falters. One of ’em is a usual suspect: Felix Hernandez. And last night he was his typical dominant self.

Hernandez threw eight shutout innings in the Mariners’ 4-0 win over the Blue Jays, striking out seven, walking no one and allowing only five hits while only needing 95 pitches. In his last four starts he has struck out 35 batters while walking only two and allowing 20 hits and two earned runs — just two! — in thirty innings. Of course he got a no decision in one of ’em, where he struck out 12 and allowed a single run.  The Mariners are gonna Mariner.

Most of us miss so many of his starts because he’s usually on west coast time. When he does get a start on eastern time like last night — and like it appears he will against the Yankees on May 16 — we easties should tune in and see a real doctor at work.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.