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.
MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.
Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.
Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.
Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.
The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.