Mariners Insider Blog

Servais `couldn’t be any happier’ with Hernandez/Smyly matchup in WBC

Felix Hernandez pitched five scoreless innings Wednesday for Venezuela against the United States in the World Baseball Classic.
Felix Hernandez pitched five scoreless innings Wednesday for Venezuela against the United States in the World Baseball Classic. AP

The Mariner-on-Mariner matchup Wednesday in the World Baseball Classic couldn’t have gone much better from the Mariners’ perspective.

Felix Hernandez started for Venezuela and pitched five scoreless innings. Drew Smyly started for the United States and permitted one unearned run in 4 2/3 innings while striking out eight.

Neither got a decision when the USA rallied for a 4-2 victory at Petco Park in San Diego.

"Really good," manager Scott Servais beamed. "I couldn’t be any happier with the way they threw or the way they went about it. Both guys were really attacking and throwing strikes, trusting their stuff. And they both had really good stuff."

Both pitchers threw 61 pitches and neither issued a walk.

The Mariners are expecting Smyly to return to camp by the weekend since his stated commitment to the USA was only for one start. Servais noted: "What I’m led to believe is he’s headed back into our camp."

Hernandez could be headed back, too, by early next week unless Venezuela rallies back from its loss in the second-round pool of the tournament. His outing Wednesday was exactly what the Mariners wanted to see.

"We always talk about his secondary pitches," Servais said, "and they’re all well above average. He used the curveball a little bit more and the slider, and he was less reliant on the change-up. He was using more high fastballs and four-seamers.

"There were a number of different things that we've talked about, and he tried them all (Wednesday) night and had success with all of them. Which is great. That’s what you want."

AWARDS ODDS

Think Hernandez can rebound from a disappointing year and win the Cy Young Award in the American League. The online gaming folks at www.Bovada.lv, in odds just posted, say that is a 20/1 shot.

Bovada also pegs second baseman Robinson Cano as a 20/1 shot to be the AL’s Most Valuable Player. Designated hitter Nelson Cruz is a 33/1 pick, and third baseman Kyle Seager is 100/1.

Cruz is 14/1 pick to lead the majors in homers. Cano is 66/1, and Seager is 100/1.

The top three favorites in each category:

***AL MVP: Mike Trout (5/4), Mookie Betts (5/1) and Jose Altuve (10/1).

***National League MVP: Kris Bryant (11/4), Bryce Harper (3/1) and Nolan Arenado (7/1).

***AL Cy Young: Chris Sale (7/2), Corey Kluber (9/2) and Yu Darvish, Aaron Sanches and Justin Verlander (12/1).

***NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw (8/5), Max Scherzer (7/2) and Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard (10/1).

***MLB Home Run leader: Giancarlo Stanton (8/1), Nolan Arenado (9/1) and Kris Bryant and Chris Davis (10/1).

PITCHING PLANS

The Mariners posted their pitching plans through Sunday. They have an open date Monday.

Friday split-squad at Arizona in Scottsdale: Yovani Gallardo (four or five innings), Andrew Moore, Evan Scribner and Dan Altavilla.

Friday split-squad at Los Angeles Dodgers in Glendale: Ariel Miranda, Max Povse, Ryan Weber and Dean Kiekhefer.

Saturday vs. San Francisco in Peoria: Hisashi Iwakuma (4), Nick Vincent and James Pazos.

Sunday at Texas in Surprise: Dillon Overton.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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