Seattle Mariners

Mariners looking to minimize Felix Hernandez’s role

The Seattle Mariners are looking to upgrade their potential playoff rotation. In other words, they want to acquire an upgrade over Felix Hernandez.

The collective brilliance of James Paxton, Wade LeBlanc and Marco Gonzales has papered over an ugly truth for the Seattle Mariners this season. Felix Hernandez has been a below average starting pitcher. His performance might improve as the season goes along, but the Mariners aren’t going to take any chances.

Instead, reports claim Seattle are already looking to provide a starting pitcher who can potentially replace King Felix in their playoff rotation. The Mariners primary target, at the moment, appears to be Rangers left hander Cole Hamels.

Hamels hasn’t necessarily enjoyed a better career than Hernandez, but he’s clearly been a better pitcher this year. He’s sporting an ERA of 3.61 in 97 1/3 innings pitched for Texas on the campaign. He doesn’t have the same dominant stuff that he flashed early in his career, but Hamels can still get hitters out at a high level.

There are serious questions over whether or not Hernandez can still do that. He used to dominate hitters with an imposing fastball, but his heater just doesn’t look the same anymore. Even more concerning is the fact that he seems to lack the swagger that made him a star in his prime. For several seasons, he knew he was going to dominate the opposition every time he stepped onto the mound.

This season, King Felix has pitched more like a court jester. He’s managed to accrue a win loss record of 7-6, but his ERA of 5.10 is by far the worst of his career. It’s a full run worse than any other starting pitcher currently in the Mariners starting rotation.

It’s fair to wonder whether or not the Mariners should have seen this coming. His ERA has been steadily on the rise since his dominant 2014 season. Last year’s mark of 4.36 in just over 86 innings should have been a warning sign for the Seattle front office. The fact that Hernandez missed considerable time due to shoulder issues last season should have led the team to consider a move in the offseason.

For the record, the Mariners certainly aren’t giving up on their longtime ace. They will still give him plenty of chances to prove he’s worth a spot in the playoff rotation throughout the second half of the season. Acquiring another starter could just provide the franchise with some valuable insurance. Time will tell whether or not Hernandez can ever return to his status as a King again.

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