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October 1, 2010 at 8:17 AM

Felix Hernandez will likely get chance to be saluted by fans and take home hardware tonight

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Well, that’s the end of Felix Hernandez for 2010. And he seems to be going along with it, which will spare us the sight of him defiantly trudging out to the mound Sunday with Jack Zduriencik clinging to one leg and Chuck Armstrong the other.
For the record, one last time, I agree with this decision. As I mentioned before, his innings totals the last two years are already creeping into dangerous territory for a 24-year-old. Back in 2003, the year I covered Roy Halladay winning his only Cy Young Award, he threw 266 innings to go with his 239 the year before. There was some talk back then, even as he was winning, that his innings totals were getting too high.
Well, Hernandez threw 238 2/3 innings last year and, with another strong outing on Sunday, would have come within 10 innings of what Halladay did back in 2003 at age 26. That’s eerily close. And I say “eerily” because it took only a few weeks the year following his Cy Young win for Halladay to develop arm troubles. He missed roughly half a season that year, had to cut back on his workout regimen and generally got off quite lucky.
Some of you have pointed out that Halladay has done quite well since that 2004 setback, but that’s not the point. The last thing this team needs is any kind of arm trouble for Hernandez, who already had an elbow injury in 2007. He’s on the books for four more seasons and this rebuilding team does not need him shelved for any of them.
It’s possible Hernandez’s Cy Young chances could take a hit if he’s passed for the strikeout title by Jered Weaver tonight. Or the ERA title by Clay Buchholz tomorrow.
But honestly, it shouldn’t matter. He’s made his case. The folks looking for an excuse not to give the award to a 13-win pitcher would probably find one in any event even if Hernandez did win the ERA and strikeouts titles. That’s just the way people are. The growing consensus nationwide amongst pundits is that Hernandez is the deserving winner. That shouldn’t change tonight and tomorrow, especially when he hasn’t thrown another pitch since that consensus emerged.
By the way, if you want to salute Hernandez on the field, you might consider coming out to the ballpark early tonight. The local chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) is giving out its awards to Mariners players down on the field pre-game starting right around 7 p.m. There is an award for player of the year, pitcher of the year and unsung hero.
Now, I can’t scoop our own awards by telling you the winner. But let’s just say I suspect Hernandez has a shot at the pitcher prize. And if he is fortunate enough to win and trot out on the field to get his trophy, some of you can pretend it’s the Cy Young. Though, a slightly smaller version.
Hey, I could tout tonight’s game by telling you to all come out and watch Luke French try to stave off a 100-loss season, but it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

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