Return of the King: A Mariners turnaround hinges on Hernande

Return of the King: A Mariners turnaround hinges on Hernande

Postautor: lucky » 18 lip 2017, o 08:15

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Authentic T.J. Oshie Youth Jersey Starling Marte is eligible to return from his 80-game suspension for PED use on Tuesday. This is great news for the Pirates, who entered Monday's action seven games back of the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central race. Despite playing just 13 games before his suspension, Marte has been one of the best players at the plate and in the field for Pittsburgh. He was one of two MLB players with at least 30 steals each of the previous four seasons (2013-16), joining Jose Altuve. He leads all Pirates offensive players in WAR, batting average, and stolen bases the past two seasons. Over that same span, he ranks third in defensive runs saved among outfielders. Marte led the majors in defensive runs saved by left fielders last season with 19. Marte has won the Gold Glove award each of the past two seasons. The last Pirates player other than Marte to win a Gold Glove was Andrew McCutchen in 2012. The last Pirates players to win back-to-back Gold Gloves were Barry Plenty of baseball will be played these final two weeks of July, but all anyone will want to discuss are the potential myriad trades. Are you ready? So many juicy, if not reasonable, rumors of big names changing places! Oh, these glorious trades! The Chicago teams made their deal prior to the Authentic James White Youth Jersey weekend and the defending champs unveiled their new rotation member Sunday with much success. But also on Sunday one of the teams with its division seemingly wrapped up finally, mercifully, made a move to improve a struggling bullpen, as the Washington Nationals acquired right-hander Ryan Madson and lefty Sean Doolittle from the Oakland Athletics. Could the Seattle Mariners still make us "experts" look good? It's becoming less possible by the week as we creep closer to the trade deadline, and hopes for a sudden turnaround might depend on the impossible-to-read near future of King Felix Hernandez. We're way past the point where we can reasonably hope for the return of the younger, dominant version of Hernandez. His average fastball velocity was 91.1 mph last season, per FanGraphs, and it's 91.3 this year. He just isn't going to blow away hitters with raw stuff -- not anymore. Now it's about mixing pitches and setting up his change, curve and slider and getting ground balls with his sinker. And that's fine. Hernandez has always been about much more than his once-transcendent stuff; that's why he shouldn't be evaluated by his velo readings, but by his results. And that's why it's a concern that, more and more, the Mariners just don't know what to expect when King Felix takes the mound. A glance at the sub-categories in my starting-pitcher tier ratings tells this story. Hernandez ranks 13th in ACE rating, putting him squarely in the middle of Tier 2. That's front-of-the-rotation stuff. But while he ranks ninth in the frequency of dominant outings, he is just 30th in consistency. Since the beginning of 2014, Hernandez has had 13 starts in which he has given up at least six runs. Hernandez worked in and out of trouble during a five-inning start against Authentic Jimmy Graham Youth Jersey the White Sox in Chicago on Saturday, allowing one earned run and three overall. He gave up a leadoff home run to Melky Cabrera (leadoff homers are a bad habit he seems to have picked up lately), hit Jose Abreu twice, uncorked a wild pitch and threw away a ball on a relatively easy comebacker. "Felix did not have his best stuff tonight," manager Scott Servais said afterward. "Struggled with his location and got behind hitters. But to his credit, he wiggled out of it and stayed away from the big inning." The outing was Hernandez's fifth since coming off the disabled list, but it was his first since closing the first half with six promising shutout innings against Oakland, when he gave up two hits and struck out a season-high eight. His game score (73) was a season best and his highest since Sept. 21 of last season. Game scores of 70 or better were once a regular thing for Hernandez. He had 17 of them in 2014 and 11 or more in seven straight seasons ending in 2015 -- but he has had just five total such games since then. With other facets of the Mariners coming together, his pre-All-Star performance seemed hopeful. Maybe that hope still shines, since Hernandez ended up getting the win in Chicago after all. Still, if the outing wasn't exactly a step back, it was a continuation of the up-and-down nature of this version of Hernandez. "Battled my mechanics," Hernandez said. "I was all over the place. Can't remember when I hit the same batter twice in a game. It's not a step back. I've been off for four days. That's what happens. You get into a routine every day, you feel much better." Seattle badly needs Hernandez to settle into that routine and thrive in it. The problem is the Mariners might be one difference-making starter (in addition to James Paxton) from making a real push for the postseason. And everything from the design of the roster to the structure of the payroll demands that that guy be Hernandez.
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