The Seattle Mariners were hoping for a quick return to action from pitching ace Felix Hernandez, but those aspirations have now been dashed.
Unfortunately for the Mariners, it will be longer than anticipated. As reported by MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, Hernandez will be out for “at least” two to three weeks, after being placed on the 10-day disabled list.
Obviously this is a big blow for Scott Servais and his team. With a record of 9-13 entering Thursday’s action, the Mariners are currently struggling to stay competitive, never mind challenge for a postseason spot.
The M’s pitching ace was forced to leave Tuesday’s 19-9 rout by the Detroit Tigers, after just two innings. At the time he was described as having a dead arm, after enduring a disastrous outing where he allowed six hits and four earned runs.
Hernandez was visibly distraught after the game, quickly leaving the clubhouse after only briefly speaking to the media. This gave some indication of how bad the injury might be, given that he is usually more than willing to talk with reporters.
The 2010 Cy Young winner received treatment in Detroit on Wednesday afternoon, before flying back to Seattle. Speaking to The Seattle Times‘ Ryan Divish and other members of the media, Servais said Hernandez had shown no signs of any shoulder issue before his latest start:
"“Often times, with pitchers in their routines and work in between starts, they won’t feel great, maybe a little soggy or whatever term you want to use. He didn’t feel real great warming up last night. That happens a lot and guys will still go out there and give you five, six, seven innings and a great outing. He went out for the second inning and just didn’t feel great, just dead. No sharp pain, nothing like that. Just the ball wasn’t coming out and wasn’t feeling good. He certainly didn’t look good from where I was sitting.”"
Regardless, even before the injury this had already been a tough start to the season for the six-time All-Star. As a result of Tuesday’s game, his ERA and WHIP shot up to 4.73 and 1.575 respectively, after five starts.
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This doesn’t mean Hernandez isn’t still a key part of the Mariners’ rotation, but they will no doubt be concerns, especially with him trying to bounce back from last year’s subpar — for him — performance. He failed to reach 200 innings for the first time in nine seasons, while also producing his highest ERA and WHIP in that time.
First things first though, the Venezuela native needs to recover from this latest setback and return as soon as possible. With Drew Smyly also currently out, this is a trying time for the Mariners’ rotation.
In related news, Mitch Haniger has also been placed on the 10-day disabled list, after suffering a strained right oblique. Haniger has been arguably the Mariners’ best hitter up to this point, and is expected to be out for at least four weeks.
How well do you expect the Mariners to fair, with Hernandez joining Smyly on the DL? Further, how realistic is it to still expect the team to make a genuine challenge for the postseason? Share your thoughts in the comment section.