Last night, Felix Hernandez was able to finish what he started, as he spent nine consecutive innings absolutely obliterating the opposition. The Angels these days are desperate for every win they can get, but Felix didn't give them much of an opportunity, as he held them to five hits and a walk while punching out nine. It was a gem - one of those games where you just drop what you're doing, sit back, and watch Felix go about his business. If pitching is art, Felix's game was a masterpiece.*
* and if pitching isn't art, Felix's game was a masterpiece!
1. a person's greatest piece of work, as in an art.
2. anything done with masterly skill: a masterpiece of improvisation.
3. a consummate example of skill or excellence of any kind.
And it was a masterpiece that capped off a truly magnificent August. For so long this season, we got the sense that Felix was good, but something less than what he could be. Whether or not that was fair, that was the perception. But then August rolled around, and Felix kicked it up a notch. It was, of course, too late to make a difference with regard to the Mariners' playoff chances, but it wasn't too late to be amazing. In August, we got to watch Felix be amazing.
Felix started six games in the month - three at home, and three on the road. He faced the A's, the Red Sox, the Rays, the Indians, and the Angels twice. Over 44.1 innings, he allowed 14 runs and four homers, with 11 walks and 51 strikeouts. But perhaps those numbers don't stand out to you. Maybe if I put it like this:
In August, Felix posted - by far - his best strike rate, and - by far - his best contact rate. Among August starters, his strike rate ranked him between Carl Pavano and Roy Oswalt, and his contact rate ranked him between Brandon Beachy and CC Sabathia. Overall, his 2.65 xFIP was fourth-best for the month, between Sabathia and Cliff Lee. Good company, all of it.
And that still kind of undersells how good Felix looked, because tucked in the middle was that start against Boston, where Felix was effective, but not unhittable. In seven innings against Boston, Felix struck out two dudes. In 37.1 innings against the other teams, Felix struck out 49 dudes. Five of the six times that we got to watch Felix last month, he looked at or near the top of his game.
Felix rolled through August, and based on the indications, he should roll through September. Maybe he won't - maybe he'll hit a speed bump - but at least in August we got to see Felix at his best. We got to see Felix throw strikes and miss bats with all of his pitches, and we got to remember why he's the baddest motherf***er in the league. I love you, Felix. I love you, and I love the things that you throw.