Ryan Rowland-Smith breaks down Félix Hernández’s 2019 Mariners debut
It was a different sort of season debut for longtime Mariners pitcher Félix Hernández on Monday night.
After starting 11 of the past 12 Opening Days for the M’s, Hernández was the last member of Seattle’s starting rotation to take a turn on the mound in 2019. The result, however, was pretty similar to his usual Opening Day dominance. The soon-to-be 33-year-old right-hander allowed just one earned run over 5 1/3 innings, taking the win in a 6-3 Mariners victory.
Leading up the Hernández’s first start of the season, there was plenty of uncertainty about the one-time Cy Young Award winner’s future. He’s in his last season under contract with the Mariners, and whether due to injury, ineffectiveness or a combination of both, he hasn’t had an All-Star caliber season since 2015, with the past two years being especially rough.
Ryan Rowland-Smith, an analyst for 710 ESPN Seattle and ROOT Sports as well as a former teammate of Hernández, joined Danny, Dave and Moore on Tuesday afternoon to share his thoughts on the King’s first outing of 2019.
Here’s what Rowland-Smith had to say:
“(It was) good. Did he go eight innings shutout? No. But I think the the expectations are different this year. A year ago, Opening Day starter and he had the weight of the world on his shoulders coming off a bad year. The expectations have changed. … When you see what he’s done the last couple years, and there’s been that knock on him, is he all-in this year? Is he going to be a Mariner? Does he care? … When you watch him, he still has that competitiveness, that’s what he has to pitch off (of).
“I love the fact he pitched inside a ton, threw his fastball – that fastball percentage was up, he threw that in bigger counts, he was attacking hitters, he was sticking that chest out, that body language was back. All the little things that he can snowball with, I thought he looked good. Look, pitching into the sixth inning, I’m not sitting here saying he’s an ace again by any means, but it’s definitely something to build off, especially after what he did in spring (training).”
Rowland-Smith had a lot more to cover about the Mariners during the interview, which you can hear in the player embedded in this post or download in podcast form.
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