We’re starting a new feature here at Prospect Insider where we recognize a couple of outstanding performances by Seattle Mariner players in the previous month: one pitcher and one hitter. Without further ado, let’s take a look at a pair who’ve stood out among their teammates over the last 31 days, not that their excellence should be a surprise to anyone.
Felix Hernandez, SP — 6 GS, 4-0, 42 2/3 IP, 2.74 ERA, 2.08 FIP, 2.90 xFIP, 36 K, 9 BB
The King continued to be the crown jewel of the American League West after another solid month on the hill. Hernandez got off to a shaky start in May and it has since been discovered that he was dealing with an illness that likely hindered his performance to some degree. After giving up three runs, two earned, in five innings against the Houston Astros on May 2 — his shortest appearance of 2014 so far — Hernandez failed to record a strikeout during his 6 1/3 innings of work against the Oakland Athletics on May 7; the first time he started a game and didn’t strikeout a batter since August 19, 2008.
It’s been uphill since for King Felix as he regained his health and won his next four starts while giving up just eight earned runs across 31 1/3 innings, and only one of those appearances was shorter than eight innings. In total Hernandez managed 36 strikeouts compared to just nine walks, and did not give up a home run. After a fabulous May, Felix has brought his production up to a 2.8 fWAR on the season, and is well on his way to matching or possibly exceeding last year’s 6.0 fWAR mark.
Hisashi Iwakuma, SP — 6 GS, 3-2, 43 2/3 IP, 3.09 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 3.11 xFIP, 29 K, 4 BB
Robinson Cano, 2B — 117 PA, .355/.393/.458, 131 wRC+, 6 2B, 1 HR, 19 RBI
Despite missing the last couple games of the month with a hand injury, Cano was a few home runs away from a spectacular performance across the board for the month of May. Dating back to April, the M’s prize free agent signee saw his 31-game streak of safely reaching base end on May 25 against the Astros. The second baseman was his usual self on the field and in the batter’s box, and even managed 14 multi-hit games over the past 31 days. If there was a knock on Cano’s May, it’d be the same one we’ve been hearing all year: the power hasn’t been there, yet. Of his 38 May hits, 30 of them were singles and just one was a home run — which brought his homer total on the year to a lofty two.
Provided Cano is able to return to the lineup in the next couple days — he was a scratch in this afternoon’s victory as well — there’s no reason to have any concerns about Cano’s lack of power, especially when he’s getting on base at a near .400 clip. He’s also had no problem driving in runners either, and with Corey Hart on the disabled list and Justin Smoak being his usual self, he’s been a cornerstone of the Mariners’ offence; which is exactly what was expected of him when he was signed.
Michael Saunders, OF — 100 PA, .318/.357/.477, 130 wRC+, 4 2B, 2 HR, 18 RBI