The Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers enter the last day of July in familiar positions. They both trail the Houston Astros by a significant margin, and as a best case scenario, the wildcard is the only realistic goal within reach. Not an easy goal, but you can write the Astros down as winners of the American League West. I’d say it’s been a frustrating year for both as well. They just can’t sustain anything they get going. The Mariners and Rangers have been good in flurries, but not good enough to facilitate a run at the Astros. The Mariners are currently 2nd in the division, but they’re 16 games behind the 1st place Astros, which is pretty unprecedented.
The Rangers sit 18 games back of the Astros and have an even bigger mountain to climb for a wildcard. Spoiler: the Rangers will not be playing in the postseason. They’ve been too on and off for my liking and I don’t see anything changing now as we head into August. Nonetheless, we have a fairly interesting pitching matchup in Arlington tonight. Two of the best pitchers over the course of the last decade will duel. We’re starting to see some wear and tear on Felix Hernandez and Cole Hamels, but their storied careers are etched in stone already.
Hernandez has been in Seattle his entire career, since 2005, and has yet to taste what it feels like to be winner as part of a team. Individual accolades aside, the Mariners have not won as a team. Felix will nevertheless go down as one of the greatest Mariners ever. Despite twelve years in the majors, he still does have something to offer, though his arm is getting tired.
He signed a 7-year deal in 2013, which would take him to 2020. However, do the Mariners dare entertain the idea of trading him before then to a contender? Hernandez deserves to be a part of a winner, so I wouldn’t mind seeing it. No, the Mariners aren’t winning a World Series before then. Hernandez would have to lift his no-trade clause for any of this to become a reality, though.
James Paxton is the ace of this rotation now, and I have my doubts that Felix’s arm is going to hold up through 2020. In a lot of ways, we can just swap Hamels name with Hernandez’s here, but the Rangers will be off the hook for Hamels’ contract next year in 2018. You won’t see these guys pitching at a quality level for too much longer so enjoy it now. For our free Mariners vs. Rangers pick, be sure to head below.
Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers Pick
Felix Hernandez (5-4, 4.08 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (5-1, 3.97 ERA)
We must go all the way back to 2006 to find the last year Hernandez held an ERA above 4.00. This was his first season as a fulltime pitcher. He in danger of making it the second time in his career if he fails to improve through the next two months. Felix heads into the last day of July with an ERA of 4.08. Respectable by most accounts, but not for a guy who has been throwing darts for a decade and a career ERA of around 3.00.
Hernandez has been looking up lately, though. He went three games allowing only 2 runs between July and has a 3.06 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in his last three. However, he hasn’t lasted long on the road at all. Note that Felix holds a 5.00 ERA on the road compared to a 3.75 in Seattle. In 18 innings pitched, he’s allowed 27 hits, which equates to 1.5 hits per inning and a 1.61 WHIP.
Conversely, Hamels has yet to lose a game at home thus far with a 4-0 record. He also sports a 2.88 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in Texas. The Rangers are staying put at home after a weekend series at home. Meanwhile, Seattle makes the long trip following a 9-1 win over the Mets on Sunday. This should be a good game, but I like the Rangers to edge the Mariners on Monday for a win.
PICK: RANGERS (-120)