Should King Felix start the All-Star game and proudly represent the Seattle Mariners? You could certainly make that argument. However, it is hard to ignore the first-half performance of “rookie” pitcher Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees.
Here are the numbers thus far:
Hernandez: 10-2, 2.10 ERA, 128.1 IP, 137 K, 22 BB, 0.92 WHIP
Tanaka: 11-3, 2.10 ERA, 115.2 IP, 127 K, 18 BB, 0.95 WHIP
Obviously both pitchers are having great seasons, and when you look at the statistics they are very similar. Both have high win totals, impressive quantities of strikeouts and low ERAs. This may come down to perception and perhaps a bit of industry politics.
You hope that there isn’t pressure to pick Tanaka because he plays for the Yankees and because he is the hot, new story of the season. However, you could see that happening. Baseball is still a business, and the league office would love to showcase Tanaka to an international audience.
Hernandez is scheduled to make two more starts before the break and Tanaka is scheduled for three, assuming the Yankees do not alter their rotation. Given that the Yankees are falling behind in the standing, you wonder if the club would have Tanaka skip a start just so he would be fresh for the All-Star game.
Obviously Seattle fans know which pitcher should start, but the decision will not be in their hands. Would John Farrell of the Boston Red Sox pick Hernandez just because Tanaka plays for the Yankees? That would certainly be interesting, but hopefully King Felix will make it clear that he should be the starter.
Both of these pitchers will be on the All-Star roster, and chances are that one will follow the other. The only question left to answer is…which pitcher goes first?