In the last two weeks Felix Hernandez pitched a couple times down in his native Venezuela to get ready for the World Baseball Classic. He started out giving up a couple runs before settling down in his first start. For Felix that is quite common. He does that during Spring Training as well. He had food poisoning the day his second outing was supposed to happen so he pitched the next day instead. He did much better in that outing. Seattle Mariner general manager Jerry Dipoto said they were the only two outings that Felix will pitch before the WBC. The important thing is that he does look healthy and ready to go.
I know that there are those including fans are not sure whether we will see the same old King Felix again on a consistent basis. Other words we may see flashes of what we have seen. I believe that we could see the Old Felix this coming season primarily because he is a proud man and he will want to show everyone that he is back to where he once was. Most likely we will see him throwing more of his off pitches than his fast ball. He has had the best change up around so we will see more of it along with the curve ball. What Felix has had over other hard throwing pitchers in his career is able to throw at least four pitches that are each outstanding so losing some off his fastball is OK. In fact he hasn’t pitched many times at 95 miles per hour or higher the last couple seasons. His fast ball has been average around 91 miles an hour. He could still be an effective pitcher even if his fast ball is around 89 miles per hour. His changeup has always been around two miles less per hour than his fastball however I believe for Felix to be effective now his changeup would have to be more around 82 miles per hour. I think that he could be affective that way and he will be willing to do so.
To say all that though I believe the Mariners still need to go out and acquire a top starter because we can’t depend on Felix being the number one starter any longer. I still believe he can be but the Mariners can’t depend on it. Also Iwakuma is getting older. Although he had a healthy season in 2016 the Mariners can’t be sure that he will be the second starter.
James Paxton could now become the Mariners number one starter however the trouble he has had with injuries to a finger we can’t be sure of that either. Although the Mariners could go after a two or three starter in the rotation to replace TaiJuan Walker I would feel more comfortable in the Mariners to pick up a number one starter. The problem though is that the Mariners don’t have many top prospects in their farm system and those that they do are they willing to trade away. Also do they want to spend money for a number one starter in free agency? There are not many remaining out in free agency either.
Jerry Dipoto has been quiet during the holiday season however I am sure he has been talking to other teams about pitchers. So I would not be surprised to see someone acquired in the next couple weeks. Spring training starts in two and half months so need to get another starter on board. Go M’s.