Mariners: We might see Felix Hernandez back home in May

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 26: Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners acknowledges fans after his likely last game. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 26: Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners acknowledges fans after his likely last game. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /
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Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners pitches.
SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 26: Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /

Although the focus has been on Spring Training, the regular season is right around the corner. When you look at the Mariners calendar, you will see the Baltimore Orioles on May 3rd, 4th, and 5th. And guess who signed a deal with the Orioles this offseason, the one and only, Felix Hernandez.

“The King” signed a minor league deal so nothing is guaranteed for the 34-year-old veteran. But, I think he has a pretty good opportunity since the Orioles are in the midst of a rebuild, and their starting rotation is shaky, to say the least.

The Orioles rotation

On the Baltimore website, their current depth chart lists John Means, Dean Kremer, Wade LeBlanc, Keegan Akin, Jorge Lopez, and Bruce Zimmerman. Not all that impressive right? The Orioles would have had Alex Cobb in there, but he was traded to the Angels, an AL West division rival.

So here is what the Baltimore rotation looks like. John Means is practically locked in the rotation after making an All-Star game appearance in 2019. After Means, they have two young prospects in Dean Kremer and Keegan Akin who both appeared in 2020, but they weren’t all that impressive.

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And then, the Orioles have former M’s lefty Wade LeBlanc (who signed a minor league deal), Jorge Lopez, and Bruce Zimmerman. LeBlanc has been a consistently average pitcher but he is not guaranteed a spot in the rotation either.

As far as Jorge Lopez and Bruce Zimmerman, they have a lot to prove in order to stay.

So, the door is rather wide open for Felix Hernandez because realistically, just three players are guaranteed a spot: Means, Kremer, and Akin.

Felix Hernandez has had a long break from pitching because he opted out of the 2020 season. But, he did look good in 2020 Braves Spring Training prior to last season.

2021 Spring Training for Felix Hernandez

Felix made his first Spring Training start and threw two innings against the Tigers last week. It wasn’t the most glamorous outing, but he received some praise from the manager, Brandon Hyde.

Hyde said, “I thought he did a really nice job. First time he’s pitched in a year… I thought he did a nice job of mixing speeds. Pitching behind in the count a little bit, but I thought he changed speeds well.”

The King allowed two runs on one hit and two walks, but he also struck out two batters.

Felix Hernandez’s Mariners legacy

There is no question that Felix was one of the most admired Mariners players ever. If he makes the Orioles starting rotation and returns home to Seattle during their road trip, there will be a huge celebration. Or at least there should be.

The King gave Seattle fans 15 seasons of great baseball. He made the All-Star team six times, won a Cy Young Award, and won the ERA title twice. Although the tail end of his time in Seattle wasn’t so good, he gave us many great moments.

He is undoubtedly a future M’s Hall of Fame member and I wish we get to see him in a Mariners uniform before he ends his career.

For now, we might have an opportunity to see him pitch in Seattle in a different uniform. Let’s root for Felix so we can see him one more time!

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