Through his first nine starts, a convincing argument could have made that Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez was a very early candidate to win the American League Cy Young Award. Obviously there is still around three quarters of the MLB regular season left to be played, but King Felix had been absolutely dominant over his first nine games.
In nine games, he pitched 64.2 innings, meaning that he was averaging over seven innings per start, which is absolutely phenomenal. He also was averaging 8.91 strikeouts per nine innings, the highest rate of his illustrious career. Hernandez posted an unreal 1.53 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over those nine starts and a solid FIP of 2.12 and xFIP of 2.63. That all went out the window on Sunday.
In the Mariners afternoon game against the surging Cleveland Indians, Hernandez took the hill for his 10th start this season and got knocked around a little bit. He went just five innings into the game and allowed eight hits, five earned runs, six total runs and one home run. He wasn’t on his game at all. The start alone raised his ERA to 2.07.
However, the Mariners shouldn’t be concerned about King Felix regressing or falling off after this poor start. Earlier this week there was a question about whether or not Hernandez would even be able to make his start on Sunday as he was dealing with soreness in his back. Though there is no word whether or not that directly caused his bad outing against Cleveland, it’s reasonable to assume that it was a factor.
Hernandez will get some rest now, though, and will make his next start and will likely be back to looking like an ace. He’s shown much more control, despite decreased velocity, on his pitches this season and it has made him elite once again. Sunday was a bad day for the King, but don’t expect it to develop into a trend.