For the last time this spring, the Seattle Mariners sent Felix Hernandez to the mound. Just like last time, Felix dazzled. Although he threw just two innings, The King allowed one run while striking out four.
Without spoiling a potential future predictions post, most of Lookout Landing thinks Felix’s ERA will remain rather high next year. It’s prudent to expect as much after such a disappointing year. But recently, Felix has looked good. Not just above-average-pitcher-who-won’t-be-an-albatross good, but King Felix good.
Here’s an example, where Felix catches All-Star outfielder A.J. Pollock chasing on a gorgeous changeup.
Look at that drop! That’s what I’m talking about. With the way he’s been pitching, I’m holding out hope that we’ll see vintage Felix again this year.
After Felix left the game, it got awfully spring training-y. Casey Fien got through one inning relatively unscathed, but the Dbacks tagged him for five runs in the fourth. Scott Servais must be seeing something in him that I’m not, because he’s looked awfully hittable so far. Perhaps his 17 strikeouts in 11 2⁄3 innings stick out more to the coaching staff than his 6.17 ERA over that same stretch.
Speaking of uninspiring relievers who probably shouldn’t be in camp anymore, Dean Kiekhefer and Jonathan Aro coughed up two more runs in the fifth for a 9-2 Arizona advantage. A Diamondback even stole home.
Mike Zunino got things going in the sixth with a horrible swing that somehow turned into a home run.
That definitely wouldn’t have been a homer for 2015 Zunino. His swing looks so much smoother with the open stance. It’s extremely encouraging to see him continue to make strides, and having Scott Brosius in the Seattle coaching staff should help him make more progress. I’m excited to see him turn into one of the league’s best catchers (you heard it here first).
After that the benches emptied for both teams. Joe Pistorese — who allowed a 6.43 ERA in 14 innings as a reliever for Bakersfield last year — was kind enough to throw some batting practice for the Diamondbacks. He allowed five runs (including a grand slam) over an inning of work before giving way to AZL Mariners reliever Jack Anderson, who spun a scoreless frame somehow.
A couple of M’s hitters had positive outings. Mitch Haniger continued to terrorize his spring opponents with a walk and a pair of hits, including his Cactus League-leading 11th double. His gap power should make him a perfect fit for Safeco Field. If his defense is as good as advertised, he could end up being a Franklin Gutierrez-level steal. Maybe that’s too high of praise for the guy considering no projection system has his wRC+ over 100 this year. His value will also be diminished from playing in right field rather than center, where he’ll see 30% fewer fly balls. But man if he hasn’t looked good this spring.
Jean Segura looked like a top-notch table setter today. The shortstop went 3-for-3 with a stolen base. As Dave Sims mentioned on the broadcast, Segura isn’t shaped like a speedster. He’s a bulky guy for his position, but he’s got sneaky quickness that makes him a very valuable weapon — especially alongside Jarrod Dyson at the top of the order.
The good news is the M’s are one game closer to Opening Day. Right now The King is resting in preparation for that start. And may he be forever electric.