If only one word could describe Felix Hernandez's performance this season, it would be "dominant."
As King Felix exited Monday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays, he came away with a stat line of seven innings pitched, three hits, one earned run and eight strikeouts. Perhaps he would have gone longer if the Seattle Mariners had not been ahead by a score of 11-1.
And so, Hernandez continued his awe-inspiring streak.
What streak is that you ask? Well, for 16 straight starts, Hernandez has gone at least seven innings while allowing two earned runs or less. He broke Tom Seaver's record of 13 straight such starts in 1971 three starts ago. In fact, it has been exactly four months since Hernandez has allowed more than two runners to cross the plate. On May 12 he surrendered four runs to the Tampa Bay Rays.
In the 16 starts Hernandez is now 8-2 with a 1.41 ERA and 134 punch outs. The M's are 12-4 in that span.
Overall, the King is having a royal season, one that will almost certainly earn himself some hardware. After Monday's win, Hernandez is now 13-3 with a 1.95 ERA. Opposing hitters are making fools of themselves, as they are batting just .191 against him. Not to mention he has struck out 194 of those guys.
The Mariners ace finds himself among the best in just about every major pitching category. No pitcher in the American League has more Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement (6.0) than Hernandez, who also leads the majors in Adjusted Pitching Wins (4.6) and is tied for the lead with 25 starts. His wins, ERA, strikeouts, WHIP (0.86), H/9 (6.139), innings pitched (180.1), Adjusted ERA (191) and Fielding Independent Pitching (2.07) are all second best in the majors.
The 28-year-old also find himself in the top 10 in BB/9, K/9, K/BB and HR/9. Only six other pitchers in baseball have faced more hitters than Hernandez (686).
On its own, the body of work Hernandez has put together this season is nothing short of brilliant. Now, add in the fact that the Mariners are vying for a playoff berth, and Hernandez's dominance becomes all the more special and meaningful. If he keeps doing what he is doing, the Mariners have a chance to make the postseason for the first time in over a decade.
As of now, Hernandez is the clear-cut favorite to bring home the American League Cy Young Award. Despite the impressive seasons of others, no one can touch what he has done to this point.
Come the stretch run, fans at Safeco Field will be showering the pitcher with MVP chants as yellow King Felix K signs fill the seats.
If the Mariners are still playing in October, Hernandez may just get both awards.
All stats were obtained via Baseball-Reference.com.
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