Getty Images

Felix Hernandez removed from Mariners rotation

7 Comments

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.

Indians trade Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Cleveland Indians have traded two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers. In exchange, Texas is sending center fielder Delino DeShields and pitcher Emmanuel Clase to the Indians. The deal is pending physical

Kluber made only seven starts this past year thanks to a broken arm and a strained oblique muscle. When he did pitch he was no great shakes, posting a 5.80 ERA and 44 hits in 35.2 innings. Those were freak injuries that do not suggest long-term problems, however, so there’s a good reason to think he’ll bounce back to useful form, even if it’s a tough ask for him to return to the form that won him the 2014 and 2017 Cy Young Award.

Before his injury-wracked 2019 campaign, Kluber pitched over 200 innings in each of his previous five seasons so mileage could be an issue. For his career he’s 98-58 with a 3.16 ERA (134 ERA+), a 2.99 FIP, and a K/BB ratio of 1,461/292 over 1,341.2 innings in nine big league seasons.

Unless there is cash coming from Cleveland in the deal, the Rangers will be paying him $17.5 million this year and a 2021 option of $14 million pursuant to the five-year, $38.5 million contract he inked with Cleveland before the 2015 season.

DeShields, 27, is a career .246/.326/.342 hitter (76 OPS+) and that’s about how he performed in 2019 as well. He was demoted to Triple-A Nashville in May. Clase, who will turn 22 before next season, pitched 21 games, all but one in relief, for the Rangers in 2019 and will still be considered a rookie in 2020. He has been used mostly as a reliever in the minors as well.

With all due respect to DeShields and Clase, this is a very light return for a pitcher who, despite his 2019 injuries, should be expected to come back and be a workhorse. It would seem to be a salary dump for Cleveland and a steal for Texas. It is likewise perplexing how any of the many, many teams who could use starting pitching — the Angels and the Mets, among others, come to mind — could not top the package Texas offered.