The Mariners beat the Twins 7-0 behind a dominant Felix Hernandez performance and rare run support. King Felix went 8 innings, giving up just 1 hit with 2 walks and 9 strikeouts. He threw 107 pitches, but Eric Wedge decided to let Steve Delabar pitch the 9th (most likely because the score wasn’t close, it doesn’t make much sense to stretch out your best pitcher in a 7-0 game). Dustin Ackley and Ichiro both drew two walks while Seager had a monster game. Seager picked up his 4th homer, improving his OPS to .828. The BABIP isn’t crazy high (.311), but he isn’t walking at all (at just 2.2%).
The velocity is still not where it used to be, as he averaged 91.50 MPH on his fastball, hitting 93 MPH. Amazingly, and this has been discussed elsewhere, his changeup was just 2 MPH slower (his fastest changeup was the same speed as his average fastball). Felix is showing that a changeup has less to do with speed differential and more to do with movement. Look at how his changeup (you can see all his pitches here, but I am emphasizing the changeup) compares to what is considered the best changeup in the Majors (Cole Hamels):
As you can see, while Hamels has much better speed differential, the movement is not even close. King Felix has much superior movement than Hamels on his change, both vertically (meaning it drops down) and horizontally. Against the Twins, Felix threw the changeup 38 times, more than any other pitch. He got 6 swing and misses (he got 8 swing and misses on his other pitches combined) on the change, and 47.4% of them were strikes that were not put in play (what Brooks Baseball cleverly calls SNIPs).
Felix got twice as many ground-outs as fly-outs, something that hasn’t quite been there so far this year. On the year, his GB/FB ratio is 1.43, which would be the worst in his career. His velocity is down about 2 MPH, but he has a career best FIP – (Fielding Independent Pitching adjusted to scale with 100 being average using ballpark factors etc) of 63. Whether it is possible to keep these seemingly contradictory numbers as the season goes on is yet to be seen, but one would imagine most of it will have to do with the changeup.
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Favorite general sports moment: The Texas versus USC college football national championship comes to mind, as does Gary Matthews Jr. catch on July 1st 2006.
Favorite Seattle Sports Moment: King Felix throwing a perfect game against the Rays
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