But, if you’re like me, and you’re hoping the Mariners lose out to improve their draft stock, it decidedly did NOT go our way.
The weekend went okay. Could’ve been better; the Mariners somehow won on a walk-off homer in the ninth inning on Friday against the Indians. But, they turned it right back around and were shut down the next two days (including the Oktoberfest game on Saturday, which I attended; I got some fried chicken from the Pen, some Oktoberfest beer, and some chocolate soft serve and we were out of there by the seventh inning; good 2017 season at Safeco, everyone!). The two defeats dropped the Mariners to 14th in the draft order, still with some room to move down.
The real key was going to be this series in Oakland. Heading into yesterday, only 2.5 games separated the two of us; an A’s sweep would’ve really flipped the script! But, this series is shaping up to be a real ball-buster.
King Felix got the start last night, what we would come to find out was his final start of the season. He owns the A’s. Absolutely kills ’em! 25-9 is his record against them, easily the best of any team he’s faced. 2.60 ERA, the best of any team he’s faced at least 20 times in his career. All this guy does, whenever he sees the A’s, is slam Quality Starts down their throats. And yesterday was no different.
6 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, in 70 pitches. Can’t get much more efficient than that.
This was, without question, the most challenging season of Felix’s career, with the injuries, the ineffectiveness, and the atrocities of aging. That’s also a nice way of saying it was, without question, the worst season of Felix’s career. 86.2 innings pitched is nearly a career low (he threw 84.1 in his rookie season, in which he made 4 fewer appearances). 4.36 ERA is nearly a career high (he had a 4.52 ERA in his second season, before he became King). 6 wins is nearly a career low; 0.8 WAR is absolutely a career low; and the .468 slugging percentage given up is a career worst. It’s sad! It’s a sad thing to see and to experience, and I hope like hell that he can somehow turn it around, but it just doesn’t seem all that realistic at this point.
I don’t want to be rid of him, if that’s what you’re thinking. For starters, it would be literally impossible to move him. He’s making $53 million over the next two years; I know there are a lot of dumbass GM’s out there in the baseball world, but no one is dumb enough to take that on (or even a portion of that on). Even if you ignored the injury risk, Felix just hasn’t been that good the last two years. He certainly hasn’t been elite since 2014. But, that’s neither here nor there, because you can’t ignore the injury risk. You have to assume, going forward, you’re going to get – at best – half a season per year out of his arm. And even then, it’s going to take a lot of babying from Servais to hold his hand through these 5-6 inning starts. Gone are the 7-8 inning gems, I’m sorry to say.
But, besides that, I don’t want to be rid of him because he’s earned this. Felix was amazing for 11 years. He was one of the best pitchers alive, he was a homegrown kid, and he remained loyal to the Seattle Mariners through some of our WORST seasons in a franchise history chock full of some pretty shitty fucking seasons. He deserves to go out a Mariner. Hell, he deserves to do whatever the fuck he wants! He can go out there and walk 50 batters per start and I wouldn’t love him any less.
I just have to adjust my expectations, and everyone else needs to too. He’s not an ace. He’s not even a #2 anymore. On his best days, he’s probably a #3 starter, but more often than not he’s going to look like a #4 or a #5, and that’s when he’s not on the DL. It’s sad how these superheroes age out of their sports, and we’re all going through it together.
So, when Felix has a start like he did last night, you sit back and enjoy it, even if it hurts the team’s draft stock.
Andrew Albers came in and mopped up the rest of the game for the elusive 3-inning save. I’m starting to get a real strong long relief/bullpen vibe out of Albers for next season. Either way, he’s a good guy to have around.
Mike Zunino jacked a 3-run home run to give him 24 on the year. I’m telling you, this time next week when I’m writing my Season In Review post, I’m going to have PLENTY of good things to say about Z!
Mitch Haniger jacked a couple homers to give him 16 on the year, and I’m with the rest of you, I can’t wait to see what this kid is able to do with a full, healthy season.
Yonder Alonso hit a solo homer to improve his free agency stock next year. Too little, too late, my friend.
Taylor Motter got the start in place of Segura, who injured his finger and might be done for the season. A fitting end, if it is the end.
The rest of this series looks similarly dreadful for our draft prospects. James Paxton goes for his final start of the year tonight, followed by Erasmo Ramirez tomorrow afternoon; he of 8 innings of 3-hit, 1-run, 10-strikeout ball against the Indians last Friday to allow for that walk-off home run. He’s been the best pitcher on this team since August, so get ready for a useless Mariners sweep in Oakland you guys!