Mariners ailing rotation needs Felix Hernandez to deliver

SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 19: Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez
SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 19: Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez /

The rotation for the Mariners is in shambles, the team has worked the farm scouring its minor-league team for arms that can keep the Mariners chugging along. It’s been a tough process and at least Felix is back, the results have been encouraging but it can’t last forever.

Drew Smyly, 28, was acquired by the Mariners in the offseason and he may never throw a pitch for the Seattle Mariners as the lefty was lost to Tommy John surgery. Drew will likely spend up to a year on the shelf. This is  the latest in what’s become a game of roulette of players on the disabled list.

“Matt Toth and I were talking in the training room about our experiences in the minor leagues and I’ve had something like this once,” said assistant athletic trainer Rob Nodine in a report on The Seattle Times. “It’s an ordeal to go through. You just try to give the best care you can. We are looking at everything to figure out what is going on. It’s a difficult thing to do.” Nodine added.

Seattle worked hard to regain full strength and Smyly going down throws a giant wrench in that, seeing as the M’s rotation is being held together by Elmer’s glue and Scotch tape. The rotation needs a leader like Felix Hernandez and even though the Mariners have performed admirably in this respect the team could use big games from its stars. That means James Paxton and Felix Hernandez need to regain–and retain–their top-tier stuff moving forward.

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Why does all of the pressure fall on  King Felix? Well the Big Maple may have a nickname but he doesn’t have a fan section with marketing money. Felix looked sharp in spring training and to his credit was committed to a rigorous offseason training program. Felix Hernandez was rocked in two starts by the Anaheim Angels and Miami Marlins for 10 and 12 hits respectively but his stuff , it’s borderline vintage Felix. The King has 33 strikeouts and just seven walks heading into his next start. It’s an encouraging sign as the Mariners look to stay in the hunt for the wildcard.

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But encouraging and enduring are two different concepts here. The bats have backed the rotation by and large, but the Mariners need sustained help in the rotation to build upon their early season success, if that’s what you want to call it. With the team still in the mix for the playoffs and some players like Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano putting up All-Star type numbers this team could contend. But for now let’s just hope the M’s are taking their vitamins. They can’t afford any more substantial injuries.