The 2015 start for Felix Hernandez ended without a final start at Safeco Field.
Manager Lloyd McClendon announced before Wednesday’s game that the Mariners’ ace would not start this weekend in the final series of the season against the Athletics.
“Felix has given me his heart and soul this year and I don’t want to stress him anymore than I have to,” McClendon said. “This is the right thing to do, much like I did with Taijuan Walker. Felix is I’m sure not happy about this. I will probably have to lock my door, but he will not pitch anymore this season.”
McClendon was correct about Hernandez’s unhappiness.
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“I’m not making the decisions here,” Hernandez said. “I want to pitch, but they said we aren’t going nowhere so let’s just have you rest. I understand. We’ve been talking about it the last few days.”
Hernandez met with McClendon and new general manager Jerry Dipoto one last time about the decision before speaking to the media.
“I said, ‘Ok, whatever you guys say,” he said. “I told Lloyd I’m fine. I’m fine to go out there win a ballgame.”
Why did he want to make that last start?
“It was personal,” he said. “I wanted to get nine strikeout and get to 200. And I wanted to pitch one more time.”
There were a few circumstances where Hernandez might have gotten the ball this weekend. Had he won his start in Anaheim and was vying for his 20th win, they might have let him take the mound.
“Yeah, he would have had a big argument to pitch,” McClendon said.
The other scenario would have been if the Mariners were playing the Angels, Rangers or Astros – teams still vying for postseason spots. Instead they are playing the A’s, one of the few teams in the AL with a worse record than them.
“It’d be tougher not pitching him,” McClendon said. “You are talking about the integrity of the game. That would have been awfully tough to do.”
Hernandez finishes the season with an 18-9 record and 3.53 ERA in 31 starts. He reached the 200-inning mark for the eighth consecutive season. In his 201 2/3 innings pitched, he struck out 191 batters and walked 58.
Most pitchers would love to have those types of numbers. Hernandez was unimpressed.
“It was frustrating for me,” he said. “I was up and down and inconsistent. I was not happy with what I did this year. I have to prepare myself for next year to be better.”
To Hernandez, there wasn’t any aspect where he was consistent.
“It was everything,” he said. “Sometimes I would be good and then one moment I was not good and the next moment I was good. I have to be better than that. I had some really bad games this year and I didn’t have them the year before. I gave up 10 runs in Boston. I gave up eight against Houston with one out. That’s not me.”
Hernandez watched every “bad game,” and none of the “good games” on film/
“I see a big difference,” he said. “Mechanics. They fell apart. I was opening up too quick. I was up, up in the zone. I don’t know how many homers I gave up, but it seemed like a lot. It’s because I was up in the zone. If I made I mistake, they hit it.”
Hernandez gave up 16 home runs last season and gave up a whopping 23 this season. The most since 2006.
There were also games when his changeup – his best pitch and one of the best in baseball – simply wasn’t very good. He blamed it on the mechanical issues.
“Yeah, it was flat,” he said. “There were some games where I didn’t have anything and I could figure it out and make adjustments and some games I couldn’t make an adjustment at all.”
As for the rest of the season, Hernandez will be a spectator.
“I’m going to get bored these last four days,” he said. ” I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
He did have one idea.
“Maybe pinch hit,” he said with a wide grin. “I asked, ‘Can I pinch hit at least? and he said, ‘Well, maybe once, but you aren’t going to pitch.'”
McClendon didn’t have any specific reasons for starting Tony Zych tonight in the bullpen start other than Zych can navigate through Houston’s big bats at the top of the lineup for the first inning.
McClendon said he will to match up as he goes through relievers tonight.
Here’s my segment from Tuesday with Mitch in the Morning
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