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Felix Hernandez and the fictional (?) Fall Fade

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Does our monarch/demigod run out of gas at the end of the year?

Less this, more not this
Less this, more not this
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

This won't be long. There's a game soon. This also won't be unbiased. Few Mariner fans can think or write about Felix without the heart steering the brain towards those beckoning sunshines and/or lollipops. But there's been chatter about Felix struggling to finish years with the same otherworldly level of dominance he exerts over the rest of the season. So let's take a look at some basic numbers, starting with Felix's September FIP compared to his whole season FIP:

(Whole Season/Sept)

2005: 2.85/2.87

2006: 3.91/3.58

2007: 3.75/3.69

2008: 3.80/4.11

2009: 3.09/2.93

2010: 3.04/3.44

2011: 3.13/3.77

2012: 2.84/2.92

2013: 2.61/2.45

Outside of 2009/2010 there's a minimal difference, and even there the difference, as it will during this entire exercise, reeks of small sample size fluctuation. But what about stuff? Felix at his height is one of the most overpowering pitchers in the game. Does he lose his ability to put away hitters as the season trickles to a close? Let's look at the same splits but with K%:

2005: 23.5/19.5

2006: 21.6/26.0

2007: 20.4/17.8

2008: 20.4/14.4

2009: 22.2/18.0

2010: 23.2/18.9

2011: 23.2./16.9

2012: 23.8/23.6

Hmmmm. Here the differences are a little more pronounced and outside of 2006 the strikeouts do appear to fall every year. What about the batted ball data? Let's do this a few more times, first with line drive percentage:

2005: 14.0/14.7

2006: 17.7/17.2

2007: 16.1/16.8

2008: 18.5/16.2

2009: 16.7/16.4

2010: 16.3/14.7

2011: 19.2/16.7

2012: 22.5/24.7

2013: 21.4/17.9

Nothing to see there. How's about home run to flyball ratio?

2005: 11.9/4.2

2006: 16.4/26.3

2007: 15.0/10.3

2008: 9.9/6.1

2009: 7.5/2.7(!)

2010: 8.5/11.1

2011: 9.5/17.6

2012: 7.7/13.0

2013: 10.0/16.7

Well hey now. This possibly merits a more granular study as there is a marked trend over the past four years of Felix giving up more home runs in September/October than the rest of the year. Is it small sample size? As always, probably. But as we move forward into the most important stretch run of Felix's career, and after he surrendered 4 home runs his last time out, it's probably worth monitoring.

Strikeouts good, home runs bad. Huge insight I know. But whereas in the past it was easy for us to either ignore Felix's Septembers or dismiss them as the byproduct of a star player worn down by a long, losing season this year Felix pitches for more than he ever has. Today he goes against another one of the game's best pitchers in Jon Lester, in a September matchup against a divisional rival.

The narrative has long been that the Mariners owed it to Felix to let him shine on the big stage. Well at long last they've given him one. May his strength not fail him.