Félix Hernández could get another start, but Juan Nicasio’s role now also in question for Mariners

Aug 2, 2018, 11:49 PM
Mariners RHP Juan Nicasio gave up a homer that broke a tie in the seventh inning Thursday. (AP)...
Mariners RHP Juan Nicasio gave up a homer that broke a tie in the seventh inning Thursday. (AP)

All eyes were on Félix Hernández on Thursday night, as the Mariners’ longest-tenured player was perhaps at risk of losing his spot in the rotation. After five innings of two-run ball in a 7-3 loss to Toronto, it sounds like he still has a chance of getting another start.

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“We’ll see,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said after the game. “Gotta just evaluate where we’re at as a team and how he’s feeling and go from there.”

Servais indicated another veteran pitcher is at risk of losing his current role, however: reliever Juan Nicasio.

An offseason addition as a free agent, the 31-year-old Nicasio has had all sorts of trouble in 2018. That continued in Thursday’s loss, as the hard-throwing right-hander allowed a two-run homer to Kendrys Morales in the seventh inning that broke up a 2-2 tie. Nicasio now has a 6.00 ERA, and he hasn’t had a string of more than three straight scoreless appearances since early June.

The Mariners, meanwhile, added three new relievers in the past week in Adam Warren, Zach Duke and Sam Tuivailala – all who made scoreless appearances on Thursday – putting more pressure than ever on Nicasio to perform if he wants to keep his job.

“It’s been up and down with Juan, his first season here with us,” Servais said. “On the high side of things, I think his stuff is much better than we’ve seen – the velocity, how the ball’s coming out. Still, the execution of pitches late in games like that, it’s hurt him. It’s hurt him a number of times this season. It’s something we have to look at going forward. We certainly added some guys to our bullpen that can take on a little bit bigger roles.

“The consistency of what Juan has done for us just hasn’t been there.”

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Félix Hernández could get another start, but Juan Nicasio’s role now also in question for Mariners