Photo: Jon Wells
Felix Abraham Hernández Garcia
Height: 6'3" Weight: 225
Bats/Throws: Right / Right
Born: 04/08/1986 in Valencia, Venezuela
Offseason home: Miami, Florida & Bellevue, Washington
Nickname: The King
Family: Wife Sandra, daughter Mia, son Jeremy, dogs Oreo and King
Acquired: Signed as a non-drafted international free agent (07/04/2002)
MLB Debut: 08/04/2005
Free Agent after: 2019 season
Twitter handle: @RealKingFelix
The King is past his prime. You know it, I know it, the American people know it, but Felix Hernández doesn't know it. "I still have the same pitches," he told reporters this spring, "and they’re pretty good pitches.... I don’t think I need to make any adjustments. I’m still King Felix."
There's no denying he still deserves the nickname—he is, after all, the Mariners' all-time leader in just about every pitching category there is: Most wins? Felix. Most strikeouts? Felix. Innings pitched? Games started? Quality starts? All Felix. He is undoubtedly Seattle royalty. But all those innings have taken a toll and The King has spent a lot of time being tended to by his royal medical staff in recent years. In addition to the DL stints—two months in 2016 with a calf injury, two months last year with shoulder inflammation, six weeks later last year with bursitis—there have been the nagging "little things." Strained groin. Tendinitis. Dead-arm fatigue. This spring he was hit in the arm by a line drive, causing a forearm contusion that derailed his preparation for the season. Now, line-drives to the forearm are not something one can blame on age, but recovery time can be, and it seems foolish to expect a full season out of Hernández this year. He'll come back from the contusion issue, sure, but something else will likely befall him at some point this summer. “If he gives us 30 starts, we’re in great shape as a team,’’ manager Scott Servais said. Well, sure, but that's a big "if."
We'd love to see Felix take the hill 30+ times. That'd be terrific. We'd love to see him go seven innings most of the time, something he only managed twice last year. And we'd especially like to see him revert to his old form when facing left-handed batters—lefties teed off on Felix last year, batting .306/.361/.493 against him (career vs. LHB: .247/.310/.374), suggesting they were reading the pitch far better than righties were. That was probably attributable to his shoulder woes, but it'll be interesting to see how things go in the opening months of '18.
Yes, he's still The King. His Court will be a popular section at Safeco Field, as it's been for some time. And we'll enjoy the heck out of his pitching (most of the time). It's the time he'll spend not pitching that concerns us.