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Get ready for a ‘very aggressive’ Felix Hernandez, says Mariners manager Scott Servais

Apr 3, 2017, 11:10 AM | Updated: 12:46 pm
Mariners manager Scott Servais believes Felix Hernandez will "trust his stuff" more in 2017 than 20...
Mariners manager Scott Servais believes Felix Hernandez will "trust his stuff" more in 2017 than 2016. (AP)
(AP)
LISTEN: Scott Servais on the Mariners' lineup, Felix's approach and more

Felix Hernandez will make his 10th opening day start for the Seattle Mariners at 5:10 p.m. on 710 ESPN Seattle, but it may look like a different King Felix than people have gotten used to.

Mariners manager Scott Servais told “Brock and Salk” Monday morning that his ace will be putting into action a new approach on the mound that won’t have too much in common with his 2016 performance.

“I think you’re gonna see a guy that’s gonna be very aggressive and trust his stuff more than maybe he did last year at times,” Servais said. “He had very good results this spring, he threw great in the (World Baseball Classic) … He’s not throwing any harder – it certainly looks harder with how he’s sequencing his pitches – but I really like where Felix is at. He likes where he’s at. I think with how he feels physically and how he feels about our club, he’s gonna go out and compete his tail off tonight.”

Drayer: Mariners head into opening day with strong lineup, pitching questions

The biggest adjustment for Felix has been to open up more of the strike zone. As somehow who relies a lot on a sinker and changeup, he got into the habit of spending most of his starts in the bottom half of the zone, which opposing teams recognized and as a result started laying off pitches more in 2016 than in previous seasons. The Mariners, in turn, have recognized that and worked with their No. 1 starter to re-introduce high fastballs to his repertoire.

“Understanding to stretch the strike zone north and south as much as east and west – Felix has always been great east and west and certainly at the bottom of it, but you (will) see more fastballs up,” Servais said. “I think understanding where he’s at, maybe trying a few different things that can help stretch the strike zone and get hitters to chase some balls out of the zone, which last year he struggled to get them to do that. But I say all those things, he really is focusing on being aggressive early in counts and then how he uses his stuff to get back in counts.”

You can hear the entire interview with Servais here.

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