Much has been made, and rightfully so, of Felix Hernandez’s great success this season when he takes the mound after a Mariners’ loss. That trend was interrupted in last night’s 11-4 Mariners’ loss, in which Hernandez gave up seven runs in 5 2/3 innings, but his glittering 9-2 record and 2.00 ERA in 12 previous starts after a defeat has been held up as evidence that he has become a true ace.
I’d agree with that, but the hidden point is this: Hernandez is pitching after losses way too many times, which shows the problem the Mariners have had this year finding consistency with their No. 5 (or in some cases, No. 4) starter.
Last night was Hernandez’s 20th start. Throwing out his Opening Day appearance (when he obviously didn’t pitch after a loss or win), that means that in 13 of his 19 relevant starts (68 percent), the Mariners have lost the game before. And since Hernandez is the No. 1 starter in the rotation, that means it’s the No. 5 or No. 4 starter that’s getting beat.
In those 13 losses, Mariners starters allowed 59 earned runs in 66 innings for an 8.05 ERA. That includes four starts by Chris Jakubauskas, two by Jarrod Washburn (because of a scheduling fluke), three by Garrett Olson, and four by Jason Vargas.
In the six games that were victories prior to a Hernandez start, the Mariners’ starters had a respectable 3.86 ERA (13 earned runs in 30 1/3 innings pitched). Four of those games were pitched by Vargas, one by Jakubauskas and one by Ryan Rowland-Smith (before he went on the disabled list).
It’s great that Hernandez has assumed the role of losing-streak stopper. But it would be helpful if he didn’t have to do it so often.