Seattle Mariners Must Stop Coddling the King

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 3: Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners walks through the dugout smiling during the eighth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field on June 3, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 3: Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners walks through the dugout smiling during the eighth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field on June 3, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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Felix Hernandez is not good. Nothing has divided the Mariners fan base like this statement since… well since Ichiro earlier this year. But it is time to face facts: Felix cannot be in this rotation.

Let’s get one thing straight, right off the top: I love Felix Hernandez. It is the biggest tragedy of this franchise that they couldn’t get him into a playoff series during his prime. It sucks. As Mariners fans, we were all deprived of seeing it. But here, in 2018, it does not matter.

Felix Hernandez is not worthy of getting the ball every 5th day. He has not earned it. Not since 2015. Everything he did from 2008-2015 is irrelevant to where the team is today: a dogfight to end a 16-year playoff drought.

And yet, many Mariners fans would rather miss the playoffs entirely than remove Felix from the rotation. Of course, the ideal scenario is that Felix pitches so well from now until the end of the season that this article becomes a rallying cry of idiocracy for doubting King Felix.

But let’s be honest, that isn’t going to happen. Hernandez is the owner of a 5.58 ERA, a 4.76 FIP, a 1.407 WHIP, and a -0.8 bWAR in 2018. This isn’t just a slump either. Since 2016, Hernandez has a 4.77 FIP and a 1.34 WHIP. His FIP ranks in the bottom 15 of qualified starters.

Even using an eye test, Felix isn’t great. He is getting hit hard, the fastball velocity is down again, and the command is not nearly good enough to compensate. Sure, we are occasionally treated to flashes of brilliance. But flashes aren’t enough to escape the obviousness of the situation.

Tonight’s start appears to be the last stand for Felix, at least in 2018. He needs to put out a good outing, or he very well could lose his spot in the rotation to Erasmo Ramirez. Whether he throws well or not, the Mariners are entering the game tonight saying they are okay with losing the game.

Winning tonight is secondary for the team who has watched their 8 games wild-card lead evaporate in a month. That is the statement they are sending every time Felix takes the mound.

But now, I would like to address you, the Felix Hernandez supporter (here is an article just for you), who if you have made it this far, I applaud you for at least considering that perhaps you are blinded by the shine of a franchise great.

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First, I don’t want to be right. Nobody who is making this argument does. Are you kidding? If Felix Hernandez is good, the Mariners are a legit world series contender. NOBODY doesn’t want that. But it is so unlikely to happen, that we have to believe that it isn’t going to.

Second, you can remove Felix Hernandez from the rotation without it being a giant slap in the face to everybody. In fact, I can make a legitimate argument that every time the Mariners throw Felix out there, they are slapping the face of the other 24 guys in that dugout and the fan base by willingly not giving this team the best chance to win.

Third, yes Felix is loyal. He was also incredibly well compensated for that loyalty and will continue to be well compensated until the end of 2019. He earned that contract, and whether he is in the rotation or not, he is going to get paid for his loyalty.

Fourth, the Mariners don’t owe him anything. They gave him a check every two weeks for 14 years. He is going to be in the Mariners Hall of Fame. They are going to retire his number. What more do they need to do? In fact, there will likely be a statue of him somewhere in the ballpark.

So there you have it. The Mariners have an opportunity to end their 16-year playoff drought. And whether you want to accept it or not, Felix Hernandez is a roadblock in that quest. So you pick which you would rather have: a Mariners’ playoff appearance? Or keeping Felix in the rotation just because?

Next. Seattle Mariners acquire Cameron Maybin. dark

Before you answer, I leave you with the dying words of a very wise man: “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one”.

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