Rowland-Smith: Félix Hernández made a key shift in Sunday’s win

Jun 4, 2018, 1:42 PM

Félix Hernández showed an aggressiveness with his changeup in the Mariners' win Sunday. (AP)...

Félix Hernández showed an aggressiveness with his changeup in the Mariners' win Sunday. (AP)


LISTEN: Rowland-Smith on how Felix turned things around

Things probably couldn’t have been much worse for Félix Hernández after his May 29 start. His ERA sat at 5.83, and the Mariners’ 9-5 loss to Texas ended a four-game winning streak and was just the team’s second loss in 11 games. Oh, and the starting pitcher in that other loss? Also Félix Hernández.

Mariners more likely to win 100 than 80, even if it’s hard to grasp why

On Sunday, Félix wasn’t about to see the M’s lose for the third straight time in one of his starts.

He threw a 106 pitches to go eight innings (both season-highs), allowing just one run on five hits and a walk while striking out seven in the 2-1 win over the Rays.

Ryan Rowland-Smith, 710 ESPN Seattle and ROOT Mariners analyst and Félix’s former teammate, saw something different from the 13-year veteran.

“I think yesterday, there was that shift,” Rowland-Smith said on Brock and Salk. “… What I noticed yesterday was just the complete focus on next pitch. Félix, the last couple outings when you watched him, the thoughts would get into his head, that doubt would start to seep in, and all of the sudden the tempo changes. He would start to walk around the mound, he’s looking up into the upper decks in left-center. That doubt comes in, that disappointment.

“Yesterday, right back on it.”

There was much made about a new approach Félix needed to adapt to heading into this season, and while there was a semblance of that in Sunday’s outing, Rowland-Smith said he saw more of a compromise between the one-time Cy Young Award winner and Mariners pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.

“The problem I found was the front office, coaching staff were taking away what makes Félix so good. Having a couple conversations with Mel over the homestand, I think they found some middle ground,” he said. “They talked about him using his curveball and changeup more often – what message does that send to Félix? That says, ‘Look, your stuff is not the same as what it was when you were Félix Hernández, when you were the King.’ Basically taking that away from him.

“… I think the conversations have changed a little bit with Mel, maybe bonded a little bit, found something. Talking about watching videos of 2013, 2014, I love that, and I think there’s that good combination now where he can change his approach a little bit but still be aggressive and still be what makes him so good.”

So a more aggressive Félix took the mound against Tampa Bay. Only it wasn’t his fastball that he was relying on to go after hitters, but instead more of his tough changeup.

“He threw that changeup, it didn’t matter what the count was. He was in some serious jams, and boom, right back at it.

“That attack mode and that confidence, and saying, ‘This pitch is nasty. I’m going to attack with this pitch in any count,’ and it was fun to watch.”

You can find the full segment with Rowland-Smith in this podcast of Monday’s Brock and Salk.

The AL West-leading Mariners didn’t come out of nowhere

Team: mariners

Brock and Salk podcast

Date Starting Pitcher
Wednesday, September 27 @ 6:40 pm

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Rain Showers
High 60° | Low 51°
Roof is open
Astros at Mariners today at 6:40pm

Brock and Salk

Seattle Seahawks Devon Witherspoon...

Brandon Gustafson

Huard: How Seahawks CB Devon Witherspoon has already stood out

After a big Week 3 performance against Carolina, Brock Huard shares what he's seeing out of Seattle Seahawks rookie CB Devon Witherspoon.

51 minutes ago

Seattle Mariners...

Brandon Gustafson

Brock & Salk: ‘That’s what Mariners baseball is supposed to look like’

Brock & Salk react to a big Seattle Mariners win over the Houston Astros as they look to make it back to the playoffs in 2023.

3 hours ago

Seattle Mariners Scott Servais Luis Castillo...

Brent Stecker

ESPN’s Passan: Mariners brass ‘needs to recognize’ Rangers’ path to success

ESPN's Jeff Passan on the Texas Rangers passing the Seattle Mariners: "What that says is that ownership needs to recognize this and go out and make bold moves."

23 hours ago


Seattle Sports Video

Video: ESPN’s Jeff Passan on why there is still reason to hope for Seattle Mariners fans

Why does ESPN’s Jeff Passan still believe the Seattle Mariners are in a great possession to make the MLB postseason? What’s the biggest reason for that belief? He joined Brock Huard and Mike Salk for his weekly interview and explained why he isn’t counting the M’s out just yet. What do they need to accomplish […]

1 day ago

UW Huskies Rome Odunze...

Brent Stecker

Huard: Why No. 7 UW Huskies, No. 16 WSU Cougars are for real

Could this season be the best combined year for UW Huskies and WSU Cougars football? Brock Huard shares what's impressing him the most.

2 days ago

Rowland-Smith: Félix Hernández made a key shift in Sunday’s win