Now that an MRI on Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow has determined he has a partially torn UCL in his pitching arm and will miss a minimum of six weeks, it’s safe to say that AL manager John Farrell can name his starter for the 2014 All-Star Game without much expected controversy or backlash. The starter for the AL needs to be none other than the Seattle Mariners‘ Felix Hernandez.
Hernandez has been the most dominant and durable starting pitcher in the AL this season — maybe even all of MLB. He has a 10-2 record, the fourth best ERA (2.11) of any starter in the big leagues, and is third in strikeouts (145).
Perhaps his most impressive statistic, however, is the one he is tied with St. Louis Cardinals‘ Adam Wainwright of the NL for home runs allowed. The two are the only starting pitchers in the league to have surrendered only four home runs all season, while having recorded over 120 innings pitched in 2014. A remarkable feat, considering the second person on that list is Boston Red Sox ace Jon Lester, with eight. If Farrell was having any issues separating the pros and cons between Lester and Hernandez, he should look no further than that stat. Before getting injured, Tanaka had given up 15 long balls this year.
Hernandez is set to make his final start of the first half Friday night against the Oakland Athletics. It should be a thrilling one too, as he will face off against the very popular Jeff Samardzija in an AL West battle worthy of tuning your television set to. The start will give Hernandez three full days of rest before the All-Star Game gets under way at Target Field, July 15 at 8:00 pm EST.
Assuming Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon gives Farrell the green light and King Felix is placed on a reasonable pitch count, Hernandez has rightfully earned the nod to be handed the ball in the opening inning of this year’s Mid-Summer Classic.