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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: FELIX HERNANDEZ MAKES A RARE VISIT TO THE DL

Whenever a fantasy baseball ace hits the DL for whatever reason, it is big news.  Such as the case of the Seattle Mariners placing longtime ace Felix Hernandez on the 15-day DL with a calf strain that the team insists is not major.  Calf strains of course are one of those slow-healing injuries that have been known to keep players out for over a month but apparently Hernandez' is of the Grade 1 variety which means he will miss 2 starts.  James Paxton was called up from Triple-A Tacoma to take Hernandez' place and he is a somewhat intriguing option; especially in AL-only leagues; due to some decent ratios on the odd times he was healthy the last two years.  Be that as it may, at least Hernandez was not dealing with arm trouble which is the big fear now as he enters into a phase of his career where there is concern about a decline.  While Hernandez is still under 30, the incredible amount of innings he has already had on his arm starting in the majors at the age of 20 are going to be a problem before too long.  It certainly looked like that was the case the second half of last season as Hernandez got shelled routinely and wound up with a career-high 3.53 ERA.  We were going to watch Hernandez very closely this season to see if more of the same would occur but until his 6-earned run horror show right before the injury, Hernandez was like his old ace-self again.  Even with that beatdown his last time out, Hernandez has a tidy 2.86 ERA.  HOWEVER (and we capitalized that for a reason), there ARE (more caps) reasons for concern as Hernandez's underlying numbers remain worrisome. 

For one thing, Hernandez is currently carrying a 7.57 K/9 IP which has continued a four season decline where one total was worse then the other.  Right now Hernandez is striking out guys at a career-worst clip as his fastball velocity continues to dip.  In addition, Hernandez's 2.86 ERA is not as good as it appears as he has gotten a bunch of BABIP luck to the tune of a .254 mark.  Consider that Hernandez' FIP ERA of 4.10 and his XFIP ERA of 4.09 show a mediocre pitcher.  Combine that with the drop in K rate and Hernandez is not looking like an ace for the second season in a row.  As a result, those who own stock in Hernandez should seriously consider selling here when he does return from the DL.  We could be seeing another rough second half as Hernandez' arm might start tiring earlier like he did a year ago.  While that is not guaranteed, the trends here are speaking loudly and none of them are good.  This could start getting nasty again. 


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