The time of the year has come for Seattle fans to once again reflect on what is about to be yet another losing season for the Mariners. While they are 62-76 and could go on a miraculous run to finish the season at or above .500 (they would have to finish with a 19-5 run…), reality is sometimes tough to bite.
What was once a promising situation after a scorching July, Seattle has slunk back into the cellars of the MLB while fans turn a disgusted face towards the currents state of the franchise.
But all this doesn’t mean that good baseball isn’t being played. In fact, the Mariners still have what is arguably one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. Though their offensive numbers are undoubtedly down, the stellar pitching of these two starters still have fans coming out to Safeco to catch the final games of 2013.
However, would it be best for both the longevity of Hernandez and Iwakuma to cut them off after one more start? Each are nearing the 200 innings pitched mark and will still look to be a dominating force in 2014, a year when Seattle should start to see its young talent really develop and play well.
Let’s talk about this in regards to each player.
Right now Hernandez has pitched 194.1 innings this year and has lost his past five starts, an almost unheard of streak when you consider that the King is usually the most dominant starter in the league. Could this be a factor of him tiring out? I really don’t think so, especially when you consider he has pitched an excess of 230 innings in each of the past four years. He’s the definition of a workhorse and looks to be in a bit of a slide that coincides fairly well with the downfall of the 2013 Mariners.
It’s a bit hard to suggest shutting Felix down for 2013 after perhaps another start (we do want to see him end the season with a win), but I really believe that is the best option for Seattle.
Look, there’s no doubting the fact that he COULD pitch 220+ innings this year, but that wouldn’t be the best option for the longevity of his career. He’s already seen a ton of innings at the age of 27, and perhaps a little bit longer of an offseason for Felix would be in his — and the clubs — best interest.
Shutting him down not only gives his arm a bit more time to recover and relax, it presents an opportunity for some of the young stars in the Mariners’ organization to get a shot on the mound as the season winds down.
So yes, while many would boo and anger at the fact of not seeing Felix on the mound, I believe the Mariners need to shut him down.
Unlike Felix, I believe there is no doubting the need to shut down Hisashi Iwakuma perhaps as soon as after his next start. While he is the Greg Maddux of Japanese pitchers and takes care of himself very well, he’s reaching the 200 inning mark (currently sits at 191 innings) and will still be needed by Seattle in the coming years.
Like Felix, Iwakuma has been stellar at times — especially at the beginning of the year. Giving Seattle two Cy Young contenders, Iwakuma dazzled opponents with his arsenal of pitches but has since seen himself off his usual dominant mark.
We all know that he is a proven commodity and could pitch another 20 innings, but once again it’s not in the best interest of him or the organization. The risk of straining his arm too much far outweighs any benefits Seattle could reap this year.
The Mariners aren’t going to make the .500 mark, Felix or Hisashi aren’t contending for a Cy Young Award, and there really isn’t any reason why either should pitch an excess of 200 innings.