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Friday, July 21, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: FELIX HERNANDEZ SP SEATTLE MARINERS

All ace pitchers eventually face mortality.  The pitching arm only has so many bullets in it before trouble arises in the form of decreased velocity and increased penchant for injury.  Such scenarios have befallen Seattle Mariners ace SP Felix Hernandez over the last two years; a stretch that followed a decade where "King Felix" was a top five fantasy baseball power pitcher.  As durable an arm as there was in the game, Hernandez was a 200-plus K dynamo who combined strikeout ability and good control in the Pacific Northwest.  Still as he moved toward the age of 30, Hernandez began to leak velocity that made him more hittable and resulted in the his ERA and WHIP spiking.  Since 2014 when Hernandez logged a splendid 2.14 ERA, the following two-plus seasons have seen that number rise to 3.53, 3.82, and his current 3.88 mark.  His WHIP?  Try 1.18, 1.32, and currently 1.36 during the same span.  Throw in some long DL stints both in 2016 and this season and Hernandez looked like he was toast like other big-armed hurlers.

Despite all this, Hernandez at the age of 31 may be in the process of reinventing himself based on his last few outings.  Since giving up 5 runs in 6 innings on July 4, Hernandez has reeled off three very good starts since then in giving up just 11 hits in 18 innings and a total of 2 earned runs.  Also in those 18 innings, Hernandez struck out a very impressive 22 batters.  The strikeouts in particular were impressive and a firm reminder of Hernandez' former ace days.  So what could be at work here?  Well for one thing Hernandez has seen his K/9 jump back up to 8.63 from the woeful 7.16 in 2016 which surely helps. Hernandez is also relying more on his offspeed stuff instead of the pure heat which is keeping hitters off balance again.  Both good signs in the short-term at least.  With a still very good 2.30 BB/9 rate, Hernandez is turning the tide on his career a bit.

Still for all these positive, Hernandez is giving up a ton of home runs now which is a direct result of the dip in velocity.  His 1.87 HR/9 is truly horrific and makes any one start by Hernandez a possible dud.  This is the risk we live with now in owning Hernandez as he simply is not the power arm he once was.  Overall though, Hernandez can still be a help by the looks of it.


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