When James Paxton was called up late last week, we weren't sure at the time exactly why. We came to find out that the move corresponded with a 15-Day DL trip for Felix Hernandez. It was scary news, seeing as The King has only missed like one start in his ten-year career. With his velocity down more than one tick this year, and the command all over the place, Felix has looked...different than ever before in his career. Of course, that "different" isn't the magical 2014 version, it's a new, maybe scarier version. It's still an absolutely fantastic pitcher. But, it's a pitcher currently with a
sprained strained calf.
Felix Hernandez is still not throwing. So he may miss more than just this next start— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) June 5, 2016
So, this is interesting. By all accounts, Felix
sprained strained his right calf, the one from which he drives off of on the mound, outside of his last start. While not seemingly all that important, the drive-leg calf is fully engaged when a pitcher stretches and lands on their plant-leg. A pain or tweak there in the leg will surely affect the trunk of the pitcher, erase a large amount of control and velocity, and make said player essentially useless until that pain goes away. Having seen approximately zero percent of his medical reports, I can wildly speculate that Felix will be "out until he feels better".
Not throwing after several days isn't a great sign, but it also isn't end of the world stuff here, if the injury is truly just a calf
sprain strain. There's no reason to push through this sort of injury when it has such a strong effect on the mechanics of the pitcher. It simply is what it is and there's nothing we can do. Silver linings? Well, Felix will have that much more in the tank for the October stretch. As well, we get to see James Paxton throw without the dark cloud of the most-painful first inning I've witnessed in years.
We all know what Paxton did in his last start. Minus a first inning disaster where he threw away an easy double play ball and got blooped until he got blasted, there were some major positives. The command wasn't great, and maybe you chalk it up to nerves, but what was absolutely legit was the velocity. He averaged 96.6 MPH from the left side on his heater. If he could manage that sort of velocity through enough innings to be qualified, he'd have the fastest fastball from a lefty starter in...wait for it...the entire League. That's a legitimate weapon. We saw him touch 99 multiple times in his first start. That's a fun thing to watch.
So maybe we see Paxton one or two more times than we were expecting, maybe Felix misses three starts, not two. Who really knows right now. There's still a chance he comes back right on schedule. Calves are tricky things. It's shorts-season. Time to start showing them off while yours are still fully healthy. Get better soon, King. We need ya.