Félix Hernández gets demoted to bullpen as Mariners fight for playoff spot

Chris Cwik

The pitcher who was supposed to help the Seattle Mariners break their postseason drought will now have to do so in a lesser role. With the Mariners fighting for a postseason spot, the team has decided to move former Cy Young winner Félix Hernández to the bullpen.

The writing had been on the wall for the 32-year-old Hernández the past few weeks. Before Hernández’s past two starts, the team made it clear he was pitching for his job.

Hernández’s status was up in the air prior to his August 2 start against the Toronto Blue Jays. After a few days of uncertainty, manager Scott Servais and general manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed Hernández would make the start. Servais was still hesitant to commit to Hernández after the pitcher allowed two runs over five innings.

The team eventually gave him another shot, and it didn’t go well. Against the Texas Rangers, Hernández allowed seven earned runs over six innings. That was the final straw for the Mariners.

In 23 starts, Hernández has a 5.73 ERA. He’s striking out batters at a 17.9 percent clip, which is a career low.

Removing Hernández based on those numbers seemed like an obvious choice. Hernández’s fastball has lost a lot of velocity in recent years. Hernández’s fastball, which used to sit around 93 mph, has averaged just over 90 mph in 2018.

Hernández has attempted to compensate for his lost velocity by relying on movement. He’s throwing more sinkers and a healthy diet of curveballs and changeups this season. While that method has worked for other pitchers, Hernández has had issues with his command all season, something Servais has pointed out in multiple pre-game media sessions.

In the weeks leading up to the move, Servais has stressed that the team is looking for their starters to keep games competitive. After Hernández’s struggles against the Rangers, the team decided he was no longer capable of doing that.

Félix Hernández has lost his spot in the Mariners’ rotation. (AP Photo)
Félix Hernández has lost his spot in the Mariners’ rotation. (AP Photo)

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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