What is wrong with Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez?

Should Seattle be looking for a new ace?

So many uncertainties have plagued the Seattle Mariners in the past decade, but in 2005, a 19 year old King from Venezuela gave the team something to put real hope in.  And now in this 8th year in the big leagues, that 26 year old is known as the “The King.”

But for every silver lining there is a dark cloud as negative scouting reports surrounding the decreased velocity of Felix Hernandez.

Manger Eric Wedge quickly went on record to say that these reports were not a concern to the team at all.

Everyone believed that – That is until Felix had a dismal outing in Oakland where he allowed 6 earned runs in 6.1 innings.

All pitchers struggle from time to time for any number of factors, but with the timing of all these concerns it is worth asking the question: What is wrong with king Felix?

Here is a video clip of Felix from 2010 which is the year he was awarded the American League MVP.

You can hear broadcaster and former Mariner Mike Blowers explaining Felix’s dominate pitching mechanics.

The real key to Felix’s power is not his arm, it is in his legs.  He uses the momentum of his entire body to drive the ball toward the plate as opposed to simply throwing in.

His arm motion is important as his style does not put extreme pressure on the elbow or the shoulder.

Pitching is hard on the body and nobody can pitch forever, (except for maybe Jamie Moyer) but the concern is that Felix may be showing signs of an aging pitcher when he just turned 26.

Some guys careers don’t even start until they are 26.

Here is another clip of Felix from the opening day game in Toyko at the beginning of the 2012 season.

The delivery styles look almost identical.  There are slight difference is delivery depending on which pitch he is throwing, so that may explain the minor differences.

If his mechanics are sound, what could the problem be?   

Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

King Felix - always a safe bet (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

Physical Weight

Felix isn’t 19 anymore and if you watch footage from his first few seasons compared to now his body has definitely filled out.  It is natural for most men to continue to gain muscle mass into their mid 20’s.  Weight change, even if it is good weight is still a change that needs to be addressed.  Because of his full body motion and extra 5 or 10 pounds could be to blame for his decreased velocity

Mental Weight

If all of the negative reports have fans worried imagine what it does to Felix directly.  As much as athletes try not to let public opinion affect their performance.  These reports are from a blog or a media source, they are from the scouts.  Felix may have been trying so hard to prove everyone wrong that his lack of focus proved  them right.

Control Issue

The video of Felix’s pitching mechanics show a stable motion, but what if the ball just isn’t going where he wants it to go.  If that is combined with decreased velocity he will be easier for opponents to get a hit off of him.  However, this is one area where the stats help clarify the picture.

Even in the start where he gave up 6 earned runs he still recorded 7 strike outs.

Felix may have gotten too sloppy with the A’s when he was carrying a huge lead and left a few over the plate, but I would guess he won’t let the same thing happen two starts in a row.

What’s wrong with the king?  He is human.


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About Danny Ferguson

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