The one caveat: None of those appointments came in October, on the stage he craved the most.
Hernandez is 32 years old now and climbing the ranks of a list he wants desperately to escape. When he takes the mound against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday, it will be the 393rd start of his career without a postseason appearance. Among the six pitchers ahead of him: Hall of Famers Ferguson Jenkins, Jim Bunning and Ted Lyons.authentic nfl jerseys cheap
If King Felix is going to write a different, more fulfilling, ending this season, it will come as part of a group effort.
As the Mariners continue to push Houston in the American League West, Hernandez is doing his part by pitching to contact, weaving his way through lineups and outsmarting hitters rather than humiliating them. It’s a state of affairs he never contemplated in 2005, when he arrived from Triple-A Tacoma and replaced Aaron Sele in the rotation in August. Hernandez was 19 years old when he threw his first big league pitch, a 97 mph heater to Twins outfielder Shannon Stewart, and a sign with the letters “K-I-N-G” hung from the concourse in left-center field.
“You know age [will be a factor], and you’re going to throw a lot of innings,” Hernandez said. “Your velocity is going to go down, and you have to make adjustments. But I wasn’t thinking like that back in the day. When you’re throwing your fastball 96 or 97, you’re not worrying about missing location. Now it’s about location and mixing all your pitches. I’m a little different now. I’m 91-92, but I have a lot of weapons to go with it.”
The Mariners, in search of their first playoff berth since 2001, are 52-31 with a rotation that’s bucking the trend toward turbocharged heaters. According to FanGraphs, Seattle’s starters rank 24th in the majors with a 91.2 mph average fastball velocity. James Paxton is seventh among qualifying starters at 95.5 mph, and Hernandez ranks 83rd at 89.2 mph.
Hernandez has addressed his limitations head-on, just as CC Sabathia adapted to age and a pokier fastball by strapping on a knee brace and adding a cutter to his repertoire. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto, a student of baseball history, digs deeper into the archives and cites the example of Frank Tanana, who reinvented himself as a soft-tosser after arm problems and won 240 games over 21 big league seasons.
“Felix’s decade of dominance matches up favorably with the great pitchers of all time in that stretch,” Dipoto said. “But he started at such a young age, and there were so many innings that transpired over that 10-year stretch, it took its toll. To expect any pitcher to maintain the way a Justin Verlander has — or the 42-year-old version of Nolan Ryan back in the day — that’s very uncommon. It’s a hard thing to do when you’re used to being one version of yourself. Felix is doing a great job of finding his new self.”cheap nfl jerseys china
Hernandez’s old self eventually succumbed to the workload. He led the majors with 2,178 innings from 2006 to 2015 and ranked second to Dan Haren in starts in that span. From 2009 to 2012, he threw 14,392 pitches — second only to Verlander among MLB starters.