Mariners shut down Hernandez for rest of season
SEATTLE — The only way Felix Hernandez is seeing the field for the final weekend of the regular season is if Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon suddenly decides to let his ace right-hander be a hitter.
Hernandez won’t be on the mound pitching.
McClendon announced Wednesday that Hernandez won’t pitch in Seattle’s final series this weekend against Oakland, saying it wasn’t worth the stress on Hernandez’s arm to have him make one more start in a game lacking meaning aside from personal statistics.
"Felix has given me his heart and soul this year and I just don’t want to stress him anymore than I have to. This is the right thing to do," McClendon said.
Hisashi Iwakuma will start Friday, Roenis Elias on Saturday and Vidal Nuno will pitch the season finale Sunday. Hernandez was told of the decision on Tuesday night then met with McClendon and new Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto on Wednesday.
McClendon said he would have changed his thinking if the Mariners were facing a team that was in a playoff chase or Hernandez had a chance for a career-best 20th victory. Hernandez missed out on win No. 19 last Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels.
Hernandez will finish the season with an 18-9 record and 3.53 ERA. Hernandez said his pitching arm is fine. Seattle also shut down young right-hander Taijuan Walker early. Walker started 29 games and was 11-8 with a 4.56 ERA.
"Much like with Walker, has it cost us a game or two this year? Probably so, but the future of this organization is much bigger than one or two games," McClendon said.
One of the disappointments for Hernandez is not continuing his streak of pitching at least 200 innings and having 200 strikeouts. Hernandez had reached the 200/200 mark in six straight seasons, tied for the third-longest streak in baseball history. Hernandez will finish the year with 201 2-3 innings pitching but 191 strikeouts.
Hernandez said he was too inconsistent this season and watched all of his bad starts where he noticed mechanical differences from his better outings.
"Up and down, not consistent. I’m not happy with what I did this year," Hernandez said. "I’ve got to prepare myself for next year now and do better."