DANNY ONEIL

O’Neil: Now it’s Felix’s turn to prove Mariners right for opening day nod

Mar 27, 2018, 10:32 AM | Updated: 10:37 am
Felix Hernandez will start his 10th straight opening day for the Mariners on Thursday night. (AP)...
Felix Hernandez will start his 10th straight opening day for the Mariners on Thursday night. (AP)
(AP)

Your turn, Felix.

You’re still the Mariners’ opening day starter, still billed as the staff’s ace for the 10th consecutive season.

And when you take the mound on Thursday at Safeco Field, it’s your turn to fulfill this team’s faith in you, something that goes much deeper than any single turn in the rotation no matter how symbolically significant that is.

M’s aim to get ahead of the curve with pitching technology

This season is Felix Hernandez’s turn to show whether he’s still got some greatness left in that right arm that has already given us so much. And honestly, after the last two injury-pocked seasons, we’d settle for anything resembling good out of Hernandez’s arm.

He is the best pitcher in this franchise’s history. Most wins. Most strikeouts. Not only that, but he has been the single best thing about this team in the 13 years since he was summoned to the major leagues as a 19-year-old phenom.

The Mariners also haven’t made the postseason in that time. That’s a failure of the franchise in general and certainly not Hernandez specifically, but if the longest postseason drought in baseball is going to end, Felix will need to have a hand in that. Well, actually it’s going to need to be his arm.

And for his first 10 years in town, that arm was more than enough. It earned him one Cy Young Award, put him on the cusp of a second and was responsible for the first perfect game in this franchise’s history.

He’s 31 now. He’ll turn 32 next month. His velocity is down, but that has been the case for the past three or four years.

This isn’t a case of how much Hernandez has left, but how well he can use it. His arm no longer gives him the prohibitive advantage he enjoyed on the mound as recently as 2014.

He has been vulnerable to injuries the past two seasons, first to his leg and last year his arm.

He is no longer Seattle’s best pitcher. At least he wasn’t last year as James Paxton was more effective in just about every measurement.

But Felix Hernandez is still Seattle’s opening day starter, and on Thursday against Cleveland, it’s his turn to show that he’s still capable of filling that role.

Jim Moore’s 2018 Seattle Mariners season preview

Danny and Gallant Show

Danny ONeil

Seahawks Quandre Diggs...
Danny O'Neil

O’Neil: Seahawks have uncertainty with a player ‘holding in,’ but it’s not Quandre Diggs

While Quandre Diggs appears to be the third Seahawks player to "hold-in" during training camp, Danny O'Neil writes that it's Duane Brown whose future is up in the air.
1 year ago
Follow @dannyoneil...
Danny O'Neil

AZ Good AZ it Gets

SPONSORED – Phoenix was the place where the rest of the country found out that Seattle fans took their enthusiasm on the road with them. That was 2013. It’s also the place where I discovered how restorative a desert vacation can be. That was 2015. Let’s start with the screaming. That’s what caught everyone’s attention […]
1 year ago
Mariners Jarred Kelenic...
Danny O'Neil

O’Neil: Mariners aren’t handing the spotlight over to Seahawks just yet

This is the time of year that Seattle tends to shift its focus to the gridiron, but the Mariners are still commanding attention.
1 year ago
Seahawks Duane Brown...
Danny O'Neil

O’Neil: When Seahawks decide not to extend players, they’re rarely wrong

If you think the Seahawks must sign Duane Brown to an extension, when's the last time they opted against re-signing someone and it came back to bite them?
2 years ago
Follow @dannyoneil...
Danny O'Neil

Oh, LA, LA!

Week 15, Dec. 19: Seattle at Los Angeles Rams, SoFi Stadium, 1:25 p.m. Pacific SPONSORED – Maybe it was fitting that the opening act for the first pro-football game I covered in Los Angeles was a rock band I loved as a teenager. There’s no place that makes me think of growing up more than […]
2 years ago
Follow @dannyoneil...
Danny O'Neil

Star in a Lone Star Adventure

Week 14, Dec. 12: Seattle at Houston Texans, NRG Stadium, 10 a.m. Pacific SPONSORED – Enchiladas and greatness. That’s what I think of in Texas. The enchiladas are pretty straightforward. They’re so delicious at El Tiempo Cantina that it’s hard to take a bite without closing my eyes. There are three locations though the one […]
2 years ago
O’Neil: Now it’s Felix’s turn to prove Mariners right for opening day nod