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Felix Hernandez should finally crack the 20-win barrier

By Jim Moore

This is the year when Felix Hernandez finally wins 20 games. I'll go farther than that – he'll win 22 games this year and finish with a 22-5 record and 2.58 ERA, good enough to win his second Cy Young Award.

Yes, I know I predicted the Mariners would go 77-85 this year. If Felix wins 22 games, you'd think they'd win more than 55 with their other starting pitchers.

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The Mariners might finally have enough offense to help Felix Hernandez win 20 games for the first time in his career. (AP)
But I like to think I'll be wrong with that 77-win projection based on what we've seen in the first week and a half from the 5-3 Mariners and closer to right with Felix.

As you know, he's making a Supreme Court appearance tonight against the A's at Safeco Field. You'll see yellow T-shirts and yellow K-cards throughout the ballpark.

Felix is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA thus far. The Mariners hung on to beat the A's last Saturday, giving Felix a 3-1 win.

I really thought manager Lloyd McClendon got lucky in that one. Felix was starting to get knocked around in the eighth inning. I thought McClendon should have had Fernando Rodney start the ninth, but he left his ace out there, and Felix gave up a leadoff home run to Jed Lowrie in the ninth.

We've seen those kinds of wins from Felix before; more encouraging was the season-opening 8-3 victory in Anaheim when Felix allowed a two-run homer to Mike Trout and fell behind 3-0.

How many times have the Mariners rallied from a three-run deficit and done it in time to give Felix the win? Rarely if at all, but they did it that night, and it gives you hope that a more-potent offense could do it again.

That will help Felix get to 22 wins. This won't be a season like the last four for him – records of 13-12, 14-14, 13-9 and 12-10 from 2010 to 2013.

Everyone knows he would have averaged at least 15 wins with a little more run support and probably would have won 20 games in a season three or four times by now if he played for the Tigers or Yankees.

To go 22-5, Felix will have 27 decisions in 31 starts. That's a little high because Felix typically has a bunch of no-decisions, but there's precedence – 28 decisions when he went 14-14 in 2011.

This year Felix is squarely in his prime, having turned 28 on Tuesday. And this year he appears to have the run support he's been lacking in his career. When you talk run support for Felix, all you need is three or four runs, and with this group, that's not too much to expect anymore.

The biggest hurdle for Felix is the month of September. In the last three years, he's gone 1-8 with a 5.07 ERA in his September starts, very un-Felix-like numbers.

By the end of the season, he's either wearing down or not as sharp because the games are pretty much meaningless. This year he's bound to be helped if the Mariners are still in a pennant race.

All of these factors add up to a 22-5 record and a Cy Young Award-winning season.

The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website, jimmoorethego2guy.com, and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at jimmoorethego2guy@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.

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