Felix Hernandez set to return from oblique injury Sunday

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Felix Hernandez hasn’t started since September 2 because of an oblique injury, but Greg Johns of MLB.com reports that the Mariners right-hander is scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Angels.

Hernandez threw a problem-free bullpen session today to convince the Mariners he’s healthy enough to start. He struggled leading up to the injury shut down, allowing 25 runs in 33.2 innings over the span of six starts, which increased his ERA from 2.30 to 3.01.

He needs to throw 5.2 more innings to reach 200 for the sixth consecutive season and has posted an ERA below 3.50 in each of those years.

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.