After the Seattle Mariners won on Friday, King Felix Hernandez claimed the throne for the most wins by a Venezuelan-born pitcher.
Felix Hernandez accomplished a major career feat the other night. With the Seattle Mariners’ victory, he earned his 157th career win, surpassing former Mariner Freddy Garcia to give him yet another title. Now, King Felix owns the top mark for the most wins by a Venezuelan-born pitcher.
The game itself turned out to be a slugfest, as the Seattle Mariners scored 13 runs to the Houston Astros’ three. Although Hernandez allowed all three of the runs, he still pitched quite well. He struck out six batters while only allowing one walk and eight hits. Unfortunately, King Felix did allow two solo home runs, but he still earned the win with a quality start.
As for the Seattle Mariners, the win helped them claw away at the massive gap between them and the Astros. The Astros became the first team to reach the 50-win mark in the prior game, and they have a firm grasp on the division crown. The second-place Mariners stand a distant 12.5 games out of first place. FanGraphs pegs the Astros’ odds of winning the division at 99.2 percent.
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If the Mariners want to make the playoffs, they will have to have many more games like Friday’s. A Wild Card berth is certainly within the realm of possibilities, although it is still a little too early in the season to be able to tell how things will shake out in the rather balanced American League. Only five AL teams own sub-.500 records and all but four teams could likely mount a serious campaign for a place in the postseason.
Of course, Felix Hernandez will serve a vital role in determining the fate of the Seattle Mariners. Previously a perennial contender for the Cy Young Award, the six-time All-Star has fallen on rough times over the past few seasons. Hernandez has a 4.68 earned run average so far this season, and advanced metrics have a similarly pessimistic view of his work.
Even since his magical year of 2014, his work has gradually soured. Strikeouts have declined while walks and home runs have inflated. Even the pitcher-friendly confines of Safeco Field could not stop his fall from grace. Decreased velocity could be a part of the problem, although his heater has been gradually losing steam ever since 2010.
Regardless, his career has certainly served as an aspiration for many young pitchers. It takes quite some talent to be called King Felix after all. And at the end of the day, this latest development should serve as a reminder of the talent lurking inside of him. Hernandez is only 31, and he very well could turn things around and post a few more elite seasons.