On April 4th, Felix Hernandez took the mound to open the season in Texas. He lasted six innings, striking out six and walking five, but came away with the loss. 93 pitches, and no win.
On May 4th, Felix faced the A’s in Oakland, lasting just four innings while allowing eight runs. He struck out just one batter while throwing 81 pitches. He went on to throw 100-plus pitches in each of his next three outings, and had thrown 100-plus in each of the three before.
All told, King Felix threw 2453 pitches last season; 63% for strikes, and 37% for balls. Over his entire career, Felix has thrown at least 37,000 pitches when you account for All-Star appearances. 37,000 times, his arm has swung forward at a high velocity. 37,000 times, his joints have torqued and flailed their way towards the target.
37,000 pitches, and his elbow has yet to explode.
Felix may have been bad this past year — and may have is somewhat optimistic — and he will likely never again be the dominant Ace we remember him to be. But his arm is still working, trying its best to reclaim the magic of the past. Wishing, hoping that the next pitch won’t be its last.
We’ve waited for it, even joked about it. Death comes for us all, especially small fragile ligaments that may or may not already be significantly damaged. When you’re sitting around the fireplace tonight, brandy in hand, remember this: for all the shit he gave us in 2016, Felix Hernandez did us the courtesy of not allowing his right elbow to eat away at itself. And that, my friends, is what the holiday season is all about.