As the Seattle Mariners try to stay in the playoff race, Felix Hernandez can’t stay in the starting rotation.
After a couple clean innings to start the game, things quickly went astray for Felix Hernandez against the Texas Rangers Tuesday night. When it was all said and done, he allowed a career-worst 11 runs (seven earned) with four walks and two strikeouts over six innings.
With 17 losses in their last 26 games, the Mariners have fallen two games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second American League Wild Card spot. They’ve now lost the last five starts Hernandez has made, and he has a 9.16 ERA over his last four outings.
Hernandez is 8-10 with a 5.73 ERA over 23 starts this season. If you remove his name from that stat line, and quite frankly what he’s done over the last three seasons (4.60 ERA, 7.4 K.9), there’s a pitcher who probably shouldn’t be making starts for a playoff contender down the stretch.
After Tuesday night’s game, Mariners’ manager Scott Servais acknowledged the possibility of pulling Hernandez out of the rotation.
“We’ll see. We have to take a look at where we’re at going forward here,” “The next time that spot comes around we’ll be over in Houston and they also have a good club. We have to give ourselves a chance to win every time out there.”
Erasmo Ramirez has been sidelined since early May with a shoulder issue. But he made his fourth rehab start on Sunday, and is expected to return to the Mariners soon. A couple of other internal starting rotation options may be ready to surface for Seattle too.
Hernandez has made 398 starts since making his major league debut as a 19-year old in 2005. For 10 seasons (2006-2015) he was as reliable as it gets, with at least 30 starts each season and a run of eight straight 200-inning seasons from 2008-2015. But his recent decline has coincided with disabled list stints in each of the last three seasons, including a back issue this year.
“King Felix” was underappreciated as one of the best pitchers in baseball for a long time. But he’s not anywhere near that level anymore, and a move to the bullpen is looming as Servais gets closer to making a tough decision.