Updated 5:08 p.m.
Manager Lloyd McClendon was asked about pulling Felix Hernandez yesterday after 97 pitches. Obviously, McClendon was cautious with Felix all season, limiting pitch counts and finding him extra days rest.
So now that it’s September and in the playoff run, will we see Felix getting pushed to 115-120 pitches?
“No, absolutely not,” McClendon said. “It won’t happen. We managed for September and then we managed for October. But then we managed for the future. He’s compiling innings. He’s compiling strikeouts. He’s at a career high for strikeouts.”
Everybody loves the complete game. It’s a sign of strength and conditioning and consistency. But in a way it’s a relatively meaningless stat for anyone other than the player to McClendon.
“What’s the use? What’s the point? That’s my question,” he said. “So he pitches nine innings, big deal. What does it mean? The most important thing is that you win the game, right? Why would you stress a pitcher to go 115, 120, 125 pitches to go nine innings when you have the best bullpen in baseball? I don’t see it.”
Does he see a situation where Felix is still a better option than a reliever in the bullpen?
“Not if he’s at 100 pitches and fatiguing, no,” he said.
There is no magic number where McClendon decides a Felix or any other pitcher is done. Usually 100 pitches is a good guide, but it’s not the be all end all.
“One hundred is not the number,” he said. “It’s what I see and how he’s pitching that concerns you.”
Obviously, there are fans that don’t see it that way. And McClendon acknowledged it.
“I get it,” he said. “I know people would love to see Felix go nine inning, but on the flip side of that, those are the same people that when you let him go nine innings and he gives up a two-run homer in the ninth, they are saying, ‘How in the hell could he leave him in there?’ That’s just he way it goes. We’ll keep doing it the way we are doing it. I think we’ve done ok.”
McClendon admitted he wasn’t always so steadfast in his decisions. He was tempted to push Felix deeper at times. But then changed his mind.
“Have I been tempted? Yes,” he said. “But my deciding factor is always what’s best for the team, not one individual. And I’ve always made my judgments on that. Is it tough sometimes? Yeah. But it is what it is. You have to make the decision that’s best for the team because you have to be able to look them all in the eye. Not just one guy.”
Roenis Elias met with team doctors today in Seattle. The MRI results won’t be available till Monday. But McClendon said the physical examination with the doctors went well.
“They weren’t really that concerned, but they are still going to do the MRI just to be sure,” McClendon said.
Taijaun Walker makes the biggest start of his young career tonight against the Astros. He’s very familiar with the team and Minute Maid Park. He’s made two of his six career starts in this building. In three starts vs. Houston, he’s 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA.
Michael Saunders makes a reappearance in the lineup tonight. People seem relatively happy about that. But of course there can’t be a lineup without some complaint.
There is some talk about moving Logan Morrison go fifth to bat behind Seager and drop Kendrys Morales to sixth or out of the lineup completely. Manager Lloyd McClendon was reticent to bat three lefties in a row with Dustin Ackley, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager for a quite a while before doing it. Can’t see him batting four lefties in a row. I’d imagine there is some hesitance to mess with Morrison – like moving him up in the order -too much since he is having so much success. And yes, I know Morrison has hit lefties well this year. McClendon likes to have some balance in his lineup if possible, this is not new. Call him stubborn or unwillful or frustrating, but he’s been pretty consistent with his thinking.
Here’s the Mariners’ numbers vs. Astros starter Brad Peacock
Here’s Peacock’s splits, which aren’t very dramatic.
Mariners official game notes …
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