The King is entering the final year of his contract with the Mariners, barring an extended DL stint for an elbow injury. The former Cy Young Award-winning starter, who has been loved by all of us fans since he broke into the league at 19, looks to be starting to decline.
While we all hope last year was a fluke and The King will bounce back and retake the throne, there were no indications of that on the horizon. So how about a move to the bullpen, more specifically, the Mariners closer? Here are 5 starters in recent history that have found success transitioning to the bullpen.
First things first, Felix Hernandez does not deserve to be relegated/demoted to the bullpen (well statistically maybe). He is our King, we hold him in high regard for a reason. He has dominated baseball for well over a decade, only missing substantial time once. That being said, last year was atrocious and sadly he is trending the wrong direction.
It was his first season with a negative WAR and by all accounts, he very well could bounce back but there weren’t any signs of that happening last year. As of right now, Steamer projects him to go 7-9 with a 4.79 ERA with 127 IP in 23 starts.
That leaves the M’s pondering what should be done about Felix in this final year. Throw him out there every five days and take what you get. Use an opener to hopefully help him avoid those 1st inning woes, waive him or get creative. We’ve already heard the Mariner’s are looking to turn newly acquired infielder Kaleb Cowart into a part-time pitcher, why not change things up and see if we can get a couple more years out of Felix? Here are 5 starters that have made a successful transition and some are a lot more similar to Felix than you think.
5. Bob Stanley
Stanley broke into the league in 1977 as a starter. Starting 13 games at age 22 while also getting his first 3 saves that season. Throughout the next four years, he would continue to start as well mix in a handful of saves. In 1982, following a disappointing ’81 season, he moved to the bullpen full-time, accruing 93 saves over the next 5 years. He returned to the rotation in 1987, but it did not go well and begun the downturn of his career.