Felix Hernandez will get one other reprieve from relieving | MLB


Mariners common supervisor Jerry Dipoto, maybe unwittingly, mentioned one thing refreshingly old-school Thursday as he knowledgeable reporters that Felix Hernandez would start the season in Seattle’s rotation.

It was Dipoto’s reasoning for conserving Hernandez in his accustomed position somewhat than making him, say, the successor to traded nearer Edwin Diaz. From the Seattle Occasions:

“He is a beginning pitcher,” Dipoto mentioned. “That’s what sort of stuff he has. Beginning pitcher stuff. He wants the sport to evolve to make use of all his weapons. And admittedly his power just isn’t essentially popping out and firing the primary 20 pitches. His power has been to include all of his stuff and pitch over the lengthy innings.”

Word two components of that quote. To those eyes, they deal with one thing that seems to be fading from the sport: 

“. . . wants the sport to evolve to make use of all his weapons.”
“. . . incorporate all of his stuff and pitch over the lengthy innings.”

That certain reads like code for “figuring out how you can pitch,” “making changes” and “establishing hitters.” The closest fashionable time period could also be “sequencing,” however that apply seems to be extra data-driven than conscious of in-game actions.

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Noticing hitters’ swings, figuring out in actual time what pitches are working finest and deliberately altering patterns (i.e., throwing a first-pitch slider to a hitter the third time by way of after throwing first-pitch fastballs the primary two instances) ought to proceed to be embraced, and pitchers who’re good at it ought to be rewarded with extra batters and extra innings. There’s extra to “pitching backward” than sliders in hitters’ counts adopted by four-seamers above the fingers, or offspeed pitches on 3-2 counts.

Hernandez has proven adaptability by utilizing his fastball much less and fewer. He has thrown it no greater than 46 p.c in a season over the previous 5 years; earlier than then, his low was 53.6 p.c in 2011. He threw it a career-low 42.8 p.c final 12 months, in accordance with Fangraphs.

The dangerous information is that the 32-year-old former ace posted a career-high 5.55 ERA final season and earned a demotion to the bullpen, solely to be saved when James Paxton was injured. Like a whole lot of beginning pitchers, he faltered the third time (and first time, for that matter) by way of the batting order:

First 252 .288 .351 .562
Second 249 .231 .291 .342
Third 150 .280 .396 .456

With these numbers, it is troublesome to say Hernandez’s “stuff” and savvy are conserving him in the rotation. The extra believable motive is that Seattle would not have veteran beginning depth. Behind the staff’s high 5 — Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Wade LeBlanc, Mike Leake and Hernandez — are largely prospects acquired in offseason trades (Justus Sheffield, Erik Swanson and Justin Dunn) who want extra time to develop.

Dipoto has time so as to add arms earlier than spring coaching begins. If that occurs, there is a good probability he’ll be again to elucidate to reporters why Hernandez is best suited as a multi-inning reliever than an innings-eater in the back of the rotation.

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