Will The Mariners Felix Hernandez Be The King Of Winter Baseball?
In an effort to regain his form, yesterday the Mariners Felix Hernandez began his off-season regiment in the Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional playing for the Navegantes del Magallanes. Will he be able to reign supreme in this shortened winter league season and become the king of winter baseball?
Yesterday, the Mariners “King” took the mound for a Winter League match for the first time since 2007.
The hope is that through his extra work in the Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional over this next month, followed by the World Baseball Classic in March, that Hernandez will fix the kinks in his game that were exposed the past two years.
Unfortunately for Hernandez, his debut with Navegantes del Magallanes didn’t go so well. Of his twenty-seven pitches thrown, fourteen of them were balls. That’s over fifty percent! And this was just part of his chaotic night.
In the first inning, Hernandez gave up two walks, allowed two singles -which each scored a run- committed a balk and threw a wild pitch.
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The walks were to be expected, Hernandez finished 2016 with his highest BB/9 (3.8) ever in the MLB, but the rest of his mistakes? They were unusual, especially for them all to happen not only in one game but in the same inning no less.
Hernandez threw six wild pitches last season, which was his second fewest thrown in the big leagues. Granted, this past year he threw the second fewest innings he’s ever pitched due to injury, but still. And for that balk? Hernandez did not commit one this past season, but he had done so in half of the other years he’s been in the league.
Hernandez was so sporadic that he was replaced after that first frame having tallied an ERA of 18.00 and a WHIP of 4.00. By all standards, Hernandez’s performance was tremendously poor, although he did strike out two batters, so, at least there’s that.
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Mariners fans should hope that this debut won’t be foreshadowing what is to come for the rest of the Winter League, the World Baseball Classic and most importantly the 2017 season. But before he has to deal with those challenges down the line, he’ll have to get back on track if he wants to be the “King” of the Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional this winter.