The surprisingly good Seattle Mariners will make a cross country trip beginning on Monday night to face the unsurprisingly not good Philadelphia Phillies in a three game-series at Citizens Bank Park, and sadly, Felix Hernandez will not be a part of it.
The best pitcher of the last decade and American League Cy Young favorite will only be able to watch from the visitors dugout since he just pitched Saturday night and will not start again until next Friday at Fenway Park against the Red Sox.
Reading this, you’re probably thinking ‘meh, ace pitchers miss teams all the time.’
That is true, but the thing that especially sucks about this situation is Hernandez as of a week ago was on track pitch the final game of the Phillies series.
Hernandez pitched on August 5th, and the Mariners did not have an off day until this past Thursday, the 14th. Rather than pitch on four days rest like normal, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon shuffled his rotation, which pushed his ace back an extra day.
Instead of going August 5th, August 10, and August 15, he went, August 5th, August 11th, and August 16th.
The first schedule would have put him on track to pitch the Wednesday series finale, but that disappointingly is no longer the case.
If any of that was hard to follow, here’s a link and screenshot of the Mariners recent schedule to illustrate what I just wrote.
I first noticed this a week ago but held off on writing about it hoping for some kind of miracle.
As you can see, a friend of mine who is a Mariners fan provided some hope, but in this instance, McClendon’s aforementioned decision worked against us.
To pour some extra salt on an open wound, Cole Hamels is scheduled to pitch on Wednesday for the Phillies. We could have had Hamels-Hernandez and instead we’re getting Hamels-James Paxton.
Paxton is a pretty nice young pitcher, but he’s not King Felix, who is currently rocking a 1.99 ERA and leading all pitchers in WAR.
If I had to make a list of individual MLB players who I would fork over top dollar to see live, King Felix would be third, trailing only Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout respectively.
If you are seriously invested in the Phillies right now, you are a better fan than me. I still watch most games, but the broadcasts have kinda turned into background noise while multi-tasking on something else. One of the game’s brightest stars in town, however, would have piqued my interest.
In a way, it would almost be a win-win situation. Either the Phillies beat one of the best (something they accomplished when they were one of the best in 2011) and have a nice memory to take away from a lost season, or you get to say that you saw him dominate in-person.
The Mariners have not been to Philadelphia since 2002, and there is no telling when they will be back again.
If you need a team to root for though with the Phillies out of it, might I suggest them? They are currently a half game back of the second wildcard spot in the American League.
Outside of Robinson Cano and Austin Jackson, there are not a lot of recognizable faces in the everyday lineup, but if they crash the playoff party, their starting rotation could make them the life of the party.
Everyone talks about feeling bad for Giancarlo Stanton wasting some awesome years playing for the Marlins, but he is still only 24 years old. His time will come. The Mariners ace has been dominating since 2005 but hasn’t seen an October yet. This might be his best shot.
Unfortunately, rooting for the Mariners won’t solve our immediate problem. We were one day, one Lloyd McClendon decision away from getting Hernandez-Hamels. An amazing matchup to spice up a dull August will not come to fruition.
Another disappointment in a season of them. This time though, you can’t blame Ruben Amaro, although I’m sure some people will still find a way.