Pitcher Felix Hernandez has proven to be a model of consistency and excellence over the course of his career with the Seattle Mariners. This season appears to be more of the same, with Hernandez pitching 8 1-3 innings of one-run ball for the victory on Saturday against the Oakland Athletics.
Hernandez is currently in the midst of a seven-year contract extension signed in 2013 worth $175 million. While there is always inherent risk in signing pitchers to such lengthy deals, Hernandez is about as safe as they come. The Mariners are clearly confident that their ace will remain healthy in the long-term, and his track record would certainly support such a belief.
King Felix has logged over 190 innings in each of the previous eight seasons, a pretty remarkable statistic. That is the very definition of reliability, and the Mariners have certainly grown accustomed to Hernandez taking the ball for every start. The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner is not just eating up innings either, but instead providing consistent dominance for the Mariners, serving as the ace of the Seattle staff year after year.
It is understandable that some would worry about the excessive innings Hernandez has logged over the years, and his struggles in Spring Training did raise a few eyebrows. However, it is just as reasonable to believe Hernandez will continue to pitch at a very high level while avoiding major injury. It is rare to find such a potent combination of talent and durability, and the Mariners seem to recognize what they have in Hernandez.
Few teams enjoy the benefits of a true lock-down ace, but the Mariners are one of these teams. They are clearly attempting to win immediately as the signing of Robinson Cano and others this offseason would suggest. If they do make the playoffs, there are not many pitchers I would prefer to have the ball in a Game 1 than Felix Hernandez.