The king isn't dead, but his uninterrupted reign as a starting pitcher for the Seattle Mariners is. Felix Hernandez ("King Felix") has lost his spot in the M's starting rotation and has officially been moved to the bullpen.
The announcement came from M's manager Scott Servais after last night's game in which the Mariners defeated the reigning World Series Champion, Houston Astros 8-6. Although, the sign of things to come happened after the third inning of the game when Hernandez was seen trotting from the dugout to the bullpen.
Servais said that he spoke with Felix before the game and had let him know the decision that had been made. ESPN quotes Servais as saying:
"He's done an unbelievable job as a Mariner. And I certainly don't take any of this lightly, but I just think trying to make the best decision for the ballclub and really the best decision for Felix at this point is just take a breath. Step back, gather yourself."
Hernandez has spent his entire 14-year career with the Mariners (398 starts) and it wasn't too long ago that he was one of the most dominant pitchers in the league. He is a six-time All-Star, he won the American League Cy Young Award in 2010, he pitched a perfect game in 2012, and in 2014, he led the American League with a 2.14 ERA (the best of his career).
Things have been going downhill since that great 2014 season though, and this season he is 8-10 in 23 starts (0-4 in his last five starts) and has a worst-of-his-career 5.73 ERA. But, Servais also left the door open to Hernandez earning back his place in the starting rotation:
"Certainly, respect him and everything he's done here throughout his career, but these things happen and ultimately it's about the team. It's never easy, but again hopefully he takes it the right way. He'll get a chance to pitch at some point down there and maybe he can work his way back in the rotation. We'll see. He'll let us know on that."
As of now, Servais has not yet decided who will be taking over Hernandez's spot in the rotation.