Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Please Rise in The King's Court

Unless you've been living under a rock these past few weeks, you probably know that Seattle Mariners starting pitcher, Felix Hernandez, has been flat out dominant. The climax of his dominance occurred on August 1 when he pitched a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Since then he has been absolutely lights out. After the jump we'll see just how good he's been, and compare his season to other similar ones.

 I will admit that I'm surprised yet not surprised at Felix Hernandez's season. I'm surprised because of the struggles that he endured early on, but on the other hand I'm not surprised at how dominant he's been. Since the seventeenth of June Hernandez has been virtually un-hittable. Let's take a look at his starts to see just how un-hittable he's been.

He's allowed more than two runs only twice. In events where he allowed more than two he was still able to go fairly deep into his games. It's also been an impressive run because he's pitching against teams that are doing really well. It's true that Kansas City, Minnesota, Cleveland and San Diego aren't doing well, and while Boston's pitching isn't very good their offense has been solid. This was before the big trade happened of course.

Five of those games have resulted in nine inning shutouts, those came against the Twins, Rays (Perfect game), Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox. During those games he did an excellent job at commanding his stuff, as well as attacking the strikezone. The Minnesota game was the only time that he struck out less than 20% of the batters that he faced.

 I was curious to see other seasons where this occured and I happened to come across Orel Hershiser's 1988 season. In 1988 Hershiser had 9 complete game shutouts while pitching for the Dodgers. During his last five starts he managed to throw 55 innings of shutout ball. Think about that for a minute. 55 innings without giving up a single run, that's unheard of. Hernandez is in special company, there aren't many people to throw five nine inning shutouts in this age. While Hernandez likely won't reach nine shutouts, it's highly possible that he gets at least one more before the season comes to a close.

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