Felix Hernandez removed from Mariners rotation

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There was a time when Felix Hernandez was the best pitcher in the game. Now he’s just another bullpen arm for the Seattle Mariners.

M’s manager Scott Servais made that official after last night’s game against the Astros. A game in which Hernandez did not pitch but in which he joined the other relievers in the bullpen midway through the game, suggesting the move.

Hernandez has spent his entire career with the Mariners, making 398 appearances. All have come as a starter, but he is in the midst of the worst season of 14-year career. He’s posting a 5.73 ERA this season, his walk rate is up, his strikeout rate is down and he’s allowing more hits per nine innings than he ever has in his career.  He is coming off a start on Tuesday night in which he allowed 11 runs – seven earned – on eight hits in six innings.

Servais praised Hernandez when he made the announcement and acknowledged all he has done for the club, but said it was in the team’s best interests to take King Felix out of the rotation. It’s hard to argue with him. For his part, Hernandez declined to speak to reporters when approached after the game. It’s hard to take issue with that too given how big a deal this sort of thing is to starters, particularly those who were, at one time anyway, elite.

Hernandez’s spot in the rotation will come up on Sunday. The Mariners have yet to announce who will take it.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.