A lot has gone right for the Seattle Mariners this week, and when I say “this week” I mean “this season.” The unproven young guys are playing a big role with success, and the veterans are filling in the cracks where needed. The bullpen has been powerful and the lineup has been patient.
The rotation’s been stellar, and wouldn’t you know, Felix Hernandez has been amazing. By FanGraphs WAR, Felix is tied with Robinson Cano and James Paxton for team lead in WAR, and perhaps the real surprise is that he isn’t alone at the top despite the week of offensive heroics. Felix is one of the very best, and his first two starts of 2014 have been next-level dominant.
Against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, Felix came two outs away from a shutout. He K’d eight batters, walked only one, and allowed six hits, all of which came in the fourth inning or later. He lost his shutout to a Jed Lowrie home run in the ninth, and was generally hit hard for little damage in the later innings, but dinger be damned, this was Felix once again at or near his finest.
Felix, of course, is about to turn 28. He’s somehow still this young, and it’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that he might still be getting better. That’s a scary thought, for non-Mariners baseball teams.
Some Felix Hernandez statistics, since the baseball season is five games old and there’s no reason not to! Don’t do anything with these numbers. They are small and sharp and just might be dangerous. Through his first 14.1 innings, Felix has faced 57 batters. 19 of them have struck out, and two of them have walked. He’s allowed three earned runs on a total of two mistake pitches that were sent out of the yard, though it could be argued that both of those homers were actually hardly mistakes at all and rather good hitting by good hitters. A year ago Felix posted the best strikeout and walk rates of his career. Through two starts this year, he’s been better. Smallest of samples, of course, but we’ll see how this goes.
Dustin Ackley and Abraham Almonte each hit big home runs, and I’m lumping them together because they were very similar hits. Dan Straily allowed both of them in the top of the fifth, and only a Mike Zunino flyout separated them. Both came on two-seamers that caught too much of the plate, and both sailed way over the right field fence. Both good swings, both extremely muscled.
Almonte’s was maybe a bit more impressive because it rode such a majestic arch out of the stadium. Go watch the highlights, it’s awesome. Not to slight Ackley, but as long as we’re toeing that line, Ackley’s homer was less visually appealing because of Ackley’s beard. This may or may not be the last comment I make about that inverted beehive.
More baseball, and soon! Erasmo Ramirez followed up his exciting spring with a fantastic start in Anaheim, and he’ll look to follow that up with a good outing in Oakland. Sonny Gray takes the hill for Oakland, and he’s really good. Game starts at 1:05. Go M’s!