Felix Hernandez is an All-Star again and will be traveling to the mid-summer classic in Kansas City next week to perform on a national stage. Hernandez is now a three time All-Star and in his eighth season with the Mariners.
King Felix is the obvious choice. He is the face of the organization and is one of the few bona-fide aces in baseball. Hernandez is the best player on a last place team. The season is half over and if you take a closer look at his performance so far, he has either been really good or he has pitched like the other four in the Mariners’ rotation. Unremarkable. In May, fans were asking: “What’s going on with Felix?” His velocity was down and he was getting hit hard. He has since turned things around and has been pitching like his old self.
Currently Hernandez is 6-5 with a 3.09 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 114 strikeouts. Those numbers are All-Star quality especially for a team that doesn’t score runs. In his last three starts, Hernandez gave up 2 runs in 23 innings.
Relievers, Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen both have an argument to represent the Mariners instead of Felix. If the Mariners were doing better in the standings, there would be a better chance of multiple Mariners attending.
The baseball All-Star game is unique compared to the NBA, NFL, and the NHL. The first major difference is that every team must be represented in the game. The second difference is that the winner of the All-Star game gets home field advantage in the World Series.
The All-Star team position starters are voted in by the fans, while pitchers and reserves are selected by last year’s World Series participants’ manager. Texas Rangers’ manager Ron Washington gets the opportunity again. The Texas Rangers have lost the last two World Series. The Rangers fell to the San Francisco Giants in 2010 and lost a heartbreaker to the St. Louis Cardinals last year. The Rangers were within a strike on winning the Series a couple of times in game 6.
The Texas Rangers are leading the AL West and are favorites to return to the World Series. They have a vested interest on the outcome of the All-Star Game. Home field advantage in the World Series is crucial.
With World Series home field advantage at stake, Washington should pick Furbush or Wilhemsen if winning the game is paramount. Washington will need situational pitchers late in the game.
Furbush has been lights out this season. The left-handed set-up man posts a 1.82 ERA and has not given up a run in his last 10 appearances. Washington failed to select a left-handed reliever to make the team. He might regret it if the game is close and he needs a left-handed reliever to match up against a left-handed bat late in the game.
Said Washington on his decision on choosing Hernandez, “It’s important to get presence, a big-time pitcher. Nothing fazes him. When the lights are on, Felix rises. The lights will be on.”
Baseball players are ritualistic. Inserting a starter in the middle innings is unusual for the pitcher. They will be facing All-Stars and won’t have time to adjust once they are in the game. It makes more sense to have players in the role they are familiar with.
Mainers’ closer Tom Wilhelmsen could have been selected as well. He’s had the most consistent year so far. Wilhelmsen has six saves and has struck out 51 batters in only 42 innings.
But in the end it could be a good thing that Felix has made the team from a Mariners’ perspective. The clock is ticking on him. He has spent his entire career with a losing organization. This is his eighth season and he has yet to pitch in the post-season. His contract is up after the 2014 season and any national recognition (All-Star games & CY Young Awards) might be favorable when both sides are at the bargaining table.