Felix Hernandez
Felix Hernandez
34-Year-Old PitcherSP
Atlanta Braves
Out
Injury Opt Out
Est. Return 2/1/2021
2020 Fantasy Outlook
The 2019 season was another difficult year for King Felix, who again struggled to stay healthy. He made only 15 starts for Seattle, including what appeared to be his very last start in a Mariners uniform. His 6.40 ERA and 1.53 WHIP over 71.2 innings were both career worsts, and he's also been unable to log more than 100 innings in two of his last three seasons. His K/9 rate (7.16) and HR/9 (2.13) only back up the fact that Hernandez has been on the decline over the last few seasons. With the 33-year-old signing with Atlanta, he may find himself headed for a bullpen role if he makes the team, especially considering his inability to stay off the injured list. A new role and a change of scenery may be just what the veteran hurler needs to put together a bounce-back season. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
#580
ADP
$Signed a one-year, minor-league contract with the Braves in January of 2020.
Opting out of 2020 season
PAtlanta Braves  AAA
Personal
July 4, 2020
Hernandez will opt out of the 2020 season due to concerns regarding COVID-19, according to his agent, Wilfredo Polidor.
ANALYSIS
The veteran right-hander was included on the team's 60-player roster pool and was competing with Sean Newcomb for a spot in the starting rotation, but he'll elect to sit out the 60-game season to help protect himself and his family, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network. Hernandez joins the growing list of players who have opted out, including David Price, Ryan Zimmerman, Welington Castillo and Joe Ross. Kyle Wright figures to be the next man up to compete for a rotation spot for Atlanta.
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Pitching Stats
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2018
 
 
-4%
BAA vs LHP
2020
No Stats
2019
 
 
-2%
BAA vs RHP
2018
 
 
-7%
BAA vs LHP
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2018vs Left .265 427 84 42 100 31 3 20
Since 2018vs Right .277 583 98 42 144 27 0 24
2020vs Left 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2020vs Right 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2019vs Left .294 134 27 14 35 10 1 6
2019vs Right .289 191 30 11 50 13 0 11
2018vs Left .251 293 57 28 65 21 2 14
2018vs Right .271 392 68 31 94 14 0 13
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2018
 
 
-47%
ERA at Home
2020
No Stats
2019
 
 
-61%
ERA at Home
2018
 
 
-38%
ERA at Home
ERA WHIP IP W L SV K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Since 2018Home 4.10 1.28 118.2 5 8 0 7.6 3.0 1.5
Since 2018Away 7.70 1.62 108.2 4 14 0 6.8 3.7 2.0
2020Home 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2020Away 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2019Home 3.57 1.25 35.1 1 2 0 7.1 2.5 1.8
2019Away 9.17 1.82 36.1 0 6 0 7.2 3.7 2.5
2018Home 4.32 1.30 83.1 4 6 0 7.8 3.1 1.4
2018Away 6.97 1.52 72.1 4 8 0 6.6 3.7 1.7
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2019
2018
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2013
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2010
2009
2008
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2005
2004
Last season was a continuation of Hernandez's decline. After a strong Opening Day performance, he fell apart, spending a brief portion of the summer in the bullpen and stumbling to a career-worst 5.55 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. His health was an issue all season, as he dealt with a forearm injury in spring training, then back and hamstring problems during the summer. His diminished fastball velocity (89.4 mph on average) and inability to keep the ball in the park (1.6 HR/9) also added nails to his coffin. He almost met the team's goal of 30 starts, getting the call 28 times, but his health and performance limited him to merely 155.2 innings. "King Felix" has one more year on his contract as well as a full no-trade clause, so it seems like he's in line for one last hurrah in the Mariners' rotation unless they attempt to move him into long relief again. Either way, he has little fantasy appeal.
Recurring shoulder issues limited Hernandez to just 16 starts last season and his performance when on the field was a far cry from the days of prime King Felix, with the right-hander posting his highest ERA in a decade. He was extremely homer prone, giving up 17 long balls in 86.2 innings, coinciding with another dip in groundball rate -- he's lost nearly 10 percentage points off his groundball rate over the past two seasons. His HR/FB rate was inflated at 22.4 percent, but he was up near 15 percent in the previous two seasons, and with the likelihood of a new ball in Major League Baseball, significant regression in that regard is far from a given. The Mariners plan to manage Hernandez differently next season to try to get him through 30 starts, possibly skipping him here or there while limiting his in-game pitch counts. That's probably a good thing for a player with 2,500 innings on his arm, but it just further limits an already severely-diminished ceiling.
One bad season is excusable, especially for a pitcher with the King's track record, but Hernandez took another step down from perennial Cy Young contender to high-mileage mid-rotation arm. Previous tales of his velocity-drop were largely overblown, as his average fastball essentially held firm at 92.5 mph (weighted average, two-seam and four-seam) from 2012 to 2015, but the heater legitimately lost some steam last season, checking in at a career-low 91.0 mph. He also endured the first major injury of his career, hitting the DL and pitching just 153 innings after 10 consecutive seasons of 190-plus frames. People have been predicting injury for years due to his incredible workload (2,415 innings and counting), but it wasn't his arm that gave out -- he injured his calf while celebrating a teammate's home run. Expect Hernandez to be priced lower than ever, such that he doesn't have to be an ace to carry value for a fantasy pitching staff.
Oh, now he gets 18 wins. Hernandez has been putting up seasons that deserve 18 wins for years, but prior to 2015 he had passed the 15-win threshold just once (19 in 2009). It’s funny, we spent years saying that his low win total doesn’t accurately reflect his elite abilities. Now he pops 18 wins in a season with his worst ERA since 2008. The real issue facing Hernandez right now is that fine line he’s treading between getting credit for being a workhorse after eight straight 200-plus inning seasons (and a pair of 190-inning seasons before it) and becoming a risk for having 2,262 innings on his arm as he enters his age-30 season. The driving force behind his elevated ERA was a barrage of homers off of the fastball. The velocity was down a tick (0.8 mph to be exact), but that doesn’t explain the spike. The fastball allowed a 14-percent HR/FB, double what it was from 2009-2014 which suggests bad luck more than a skill decline. He’s still a stud.
Hernandez posted the lowest ERA and WHIP in the American League last season since Pedro Martinez in 2000, and the third-lowest opponent OBP (.243) in the designated hitter era. He also led the AL in BAA (.200) and quality starts (27) and was the only pitcher to finish in the top five in IP (236), strikeouts (248), K/BB (5.39), K/9 (9.46), GB/FB (1.35) and FIP (2.59). In 13 no-decisions, he had a 1.88 ERA. He also set a major league record with 16 consecutive starts of at least seven innings and two or fewer runs allowed. And yet, it wasn't enough to win him his second AL Cy Young Award. Go figure. Hernandez might not be historically great again this year, but he should turn in another typical Felix season, dominating throughout the season as he did last year when he posted a 1.66 September ERA. A better offense should give more run support, too, resulting in more wins.
A late-season back injury put a damper on an otherwise outstanding season for Hernandez in 2013. At the time of the injury, he had a 2.63 ERA. He made it into the seventh inning once over his last four starts, twice going no more than four innings and he posted a 6.86 ERA in that span. So, his year-end 3.04 ERA is a bit deceiving. Hernandez should dominate again this season. As a high-strikeout (fifth in the AL), groundball pitcher with outstanding control and command, few pitchers in baseball can touch him. Better run support this season (4.45 last year, 15th in AL) should help him notch more than the 12 wins he posted in 2013.
Hernandez might have won the Cy Young award had he not faced the Angels last season. In five starts against the Angels, Hernandez was bruised for a 6.25 ERA and an 11.7 H/9. In his 28 other starts, he posted a 2.56 ERA and a 7.5 H/9. Go figure. Overall, it was another stellar campaign for the 26-year-old. Hernandez went on an amazing two-and-a-half-month run, posting a 1.40 ERA with 100 strikeouts and 17 walks in 14 starts from mid-June through August that also included a perfect game. Early fears of a lost velocity proved mostly insignificant as Hernandez posted his fourth consecutive season of 200-plus strikeouts. He also recorded a 62.0 percent groundball rate. Expect more of the same this season, and hope he can solve the Angels.
Coming off a Cy Young season, Hernandez's 3.47 ERA from last year looks disappointing, but the bump in ERA is probably best explained by a lower strand rate and significantly higher BABIP. Hernandez's walk and strikeout rates remained consistent with the previous year (the K rate actually increased in 2011), and he's still generating a ton of ground balls. He still doesn't get much run support, but with his devastating arsenal of pitches and electric stuff, he'll continue to be one of the game's best pitchers.
Hernandez turned in another dominating season last year, and this time he was rewarded with the American League Cy Young award. Hernandez, who finished second in Cy Young balloting in 2009, led the AL last season in innings pitched, ERA, H/9IP, quality starts, batting average against and OPS against and was second in strikeouts and third in complete games (both by one). Just as impressive, he continued to be a groundball/strikeout machine. Since he entered the league, no pitcher in baseball has struck out more batters per nine innings and gotten as many groundball outs as Hernandez. The only mark against him in 2010 was his 13 wins, fewest ever for a Cy Young winner. But an AL-low 3.10 runs of support was responsible for that.
Hernandez came up just short in his bid for the Cy Young, but his 2009 season was a remarkable feat nonetheless. No starting pitcher struck out more batters per nine innings and got as many groundball outs as Hernandez. He led the AL in OPS against at .605, and no pitcher in baseball threw as many quality starts (29) or had a higher quality start percentage (85 percent). Hernandez's youth is still taken for granted – at 23, he was the youngest player on the AL All-Star team last season and he was at least two years younger than any of his Cy Young rivals in either league. His focus seemed to sharpen after getting called out publicly by his manager after a poor outing May 19. From that point on, Hernandez went 15-2 with a 1.98 ERA in his final 25 starts. Let's see what his encore brings.
Hernandez was enjoying a dominating season before spraining an ankle in late June last year. The injury sent him to the disabled list and seemed to knock him off stride. In 16 starts before the DL, he had a 2.83 ERA, 2.44 K/BB, 8.0 H/9IP and 3.1 BB/9IP. In 15 starts after the DL, he sunk to a 4.18 ERA, 1.95 K/BB, 9.8 H/9IP and 4.08 BB/9IP. Perhaps the ankle gave him more trouble than he let on -- and he also pitched through late-season groin soreness -- but whatever the case, Hernandez wasn't as sharp in the second half. Still, 2008 saw Hernandez develop better poise on the mound, keeping damage to a minimum by keeping his composure, which helped him evolve from thrower to pitcher. Only 22, Hernandez has more maturing and more developing to do, but he's already a rarity -- only two starters had a higher strikeout rate and a higher groundball rate than Hernandez last year. Better defense (the Mariners have been awful the last few years) and better run support (his 3.68 RS was the second-lowest in the AL last season) would help Hernandez's prospects as well.
For all of Hernandez's frustrating peaks and valleys last year, it's important to remember just how unique he is. Hernandez had the highest K/9IP (7.80) last season of any starter with a G/F ratio of at least 2.00. Since he came into the league, in fact, no starter other than Felix has struck out more batters per nine and had a G/F higher than 2.10. All that, and he's 21, which partly explains his command problems - he's still learning. A quarter of his runs allowed last year came in the first inning, though he's actually better the first time through the lineup (.752 OPS) than the second time through (.791). A minor elbow injury interrupted a fine start to the season, but Hernandez's foremost problem is his inability to control his fastball - not an uncommon problem for 21-year-olds who throw in the high 90s. If Hernandez evolves this year from a thrower to pitcher (and if the elbow doesn't flare up - no small thing with this organization's injury history), he'll earn the title of staff ace, bestowed upon him last year by default - and unfortunately so because of the requisite expectations.
After a highly impressive 2005 debut, Hernandez was surprisingly disappointing in 2006. Various theories were floated inside and outside the organization as to why he struggled, but generally speaking when he kept the ball down he cruised; when he left it up he got hit. Hernandez posted an 8.3 K/9 and nearly a 3:1 K:BB with the sixth-best G/F rate in baseball at 2.39, showing the tools are there to dominate as expected. The Mariners limited his innings last season and likely will do so again.
Hernandez's long-anticipated debut couldn't have been more impressive. In 12 major league starts, he posted a 2.67 ERA, 0.996 WHIP and a K/BB rate of more than 3/1 (77/23). It took eight starts for his ERA to surpass 2.00 and five starts before he gave up his first extra-base hit. He still has bouts of wildness (in two games he walked four batters each; in his 10 other starts, he walked a combined 15), but Hernandez proved overpowering for the most part. Of his 61 hits allowed only 14 were for extra bases. He induced 149 ground-ball outs to 45 fly-ball outs, a rate (3.31) that would have led the American League. The Mariners again will limit his innings to 190 and still won't let him throw his above-average slider.
Hernandez, one of baseball's top prospects, won't turn 19 until April 8, but he could find himself in Seattle by then. He tore through the California League last season before a successful promotion to Double-A San Antonio. On the major league scouting scale of 20 to 80, Hernandez's curveball and 99 mph fastball rate at 70. He also throws an above-average slider that runs up to 91 mph and looks a lot like his fastball. He could make the big-league team out of spring training, but he'll likely start the season at Triple-A Tacoma. It'll be hard to keep Hernandez, who has been compared to Dwight Gooden, down on the farm.
Signed out Venezuela, Hernandez dominated Rookie ball, and earned a promotion to Low A in 2003 as a 17-year-old. At 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, he’s thin as a rake but can get his fastball into the high 90s and has one of the best curveballs in the organization. He’s still developing a change up but blew away rookies with the two-pitch repertoire. He’s raw, prone to overthrowing, and needs to bulk up a bit, but he’s quickly become one of the most talked about pitchers in the low minors. He should begin the season in Low-A with a High-A promotion a possibility. He’ll need to learn to pitch before he’s ready to move beyond A-ball but he’s a player to keep tabs on.
More Fantasy News
Included in 60-man pool
PAtlanta Braves  AAA
June 29, 2020
Hernandez will be a part of the Braves' 60-man roster, Gabe Burns of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
ANALYSIS
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Likely limited to begin season
PAtlanta Braves  AAA
June 24, 2020
General manager Alex Anthopolous said Wednesday that the Braves will limit their starters to 2-to-4 innings their first couple times through the rotation, David O'Brien of The Athletic reports.
ANALYSIS
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Strong spring continues
PAtlanta Braves  AAA
March 10, 2020
Hernandez gave up one run on six hits and two walks over five innings while striking out six in Monday's Grapefruit League game against the Red Sox.
ANALYSIS
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Solid start to job battle
PAtlanta Braves  AAA
February 23, 2020
Hernandez struck out two and walked one over two scoreless, hitless innings Saturday against the Orioles, Gabriel Burns of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
ANALYSIS
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Tabbed for spring opener
PAtlanta Braves  AAA
February 21, 2020
Hernandez will start the Grapefruit League opener Saturday versus the Orioles, Gabe Burns of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
ANALYSIS
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