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.
Earlier today the Major League Baseball Umpire’s Association made multiple posts on social media registering its displeasure at what it feels was the league’s weak discipline of Manny Machado following his run-in with umpire Bill Welke. It was an unusual statement, as it’s not common for umpires, individual or via their union to comment on such matters.
This evening, in an official statement, the league called it inappropriate:
“Manny Machado was suspended by MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre, who considered all the facts and circumstances of Machado’s conduct, including precedent, in determining the appropriate level of discipline. Mr. Machado is appealing his suspension and we do not believe it is appropriate for the union representing Major League Umpires to comment on the discipline of players represented by the Players Association, just as it would not be appropriate for the Players Association to comment on disciplinary decisions made with respect to umpires. We also believe it is inappropriate to compare this incident to the extraordinarily serious issue of workplace violence.”
That final bit, about workplace violence, is something that I didn’t really consider when I read the umps’ statements, but it’s a damn good point. In an age where people are literally shooting up workplaces, umpires making reference to that kind of thing in response to a player throwing a bat is pretty rich indeed. And in pretty poor taste.