Jennifer Buchanan / USA TODAY Sports

EXCLUSIVE: Seattle Mariners' Felix Hernandez Chasing Venezuelan Wins Record

Felix Hernandez will be looking forward to his Wednesday start as he chases the last crown his fellow countrymen hold. If he and his team beat the Miami Marlins, he will equal Freddy Garcia’s victory tally.

Baseball Reference states that there are 156 pitchers from Venezuelan that have played in the big leagues, but that amount excludes both Aurelio Monteagudo and Felipe Paulino. Monteagudo was born in Cuba but he obtained Venezuelan nationality, as he was raised in Venezuela and he also had a very successful career in the Venezuelan Baseball Winter League. Paulino, on the other hand, was born in the Dominican Republic, but he was raised in Venezuela, where he signed with a major-league franchise; he has, basically, no connection with the Dominican country.

If we include both of them on Baseball Reference’s list, it’s still fair to say that Felix Hernandez is the best out of 158 Venezuelan pitchers that have seen action in the best baseball league in the world, as well as one of the best ever.

"The King" isn’t shy when it comes to making history every time he steps on to the mound, and today he will have a new opportunity to do so but with a special feeling for his home country. Hernandez will be vying to tie fellow countryman Freddy Garcia on top of the leaderboard for most wins by a Venezuelan pitcher. "The Chief," as Garcia was known as, is the Venezuelan with the most wins ever in the MLB, with 156 wins, just one more than Hernandez' current tally, who will certainly look forward to equaling such a feat on Wednesday.

"Equaling his victory tally would be an honor," Hernandez said in a phone interview yesterday. "We talked about it last year. It would be something special. I followed his career closely when he played with the Mariners and now we have a good friendship. Let’s hope that we can get a win."

The Valencia-born player is his country’s record holder for both most innings pitched and strikeouts. His ERA is most certainly the best out of any of his countrymen that managed to step up to the mound for more than 1500 innings. Taking this exact same requirement, he also possesses the best FIP and the second best ERA+ of any Venezuelan-born pitcher, a stat which first place belongs to lefty Johan Santana.

At his current age, only 8 other of his colleagues had managed to obtain such merits, counting up since 1901, according to Baseball Reference. The Mariners’ pitcher has achieved over 2200 strike outs, over 2400 innings at the mound and more than 150 victories in the big leagues. He shares such a remarkable place with Nolan Ryan, Walter Johnson, Don Drysdale, Bert Blyleven, Tom Seaver, Christy Mathewson, Bob Feller and C.C Sabathia.

All said baseball players have been included into the Hall of Fame, except for Sabathia, who still remains active.

Hernandez has also played in six All-Star games, has two ERA titles in the American League and he won the Cy Young seven years ago, back in 2010. 

This was an outstanding way to overcome his master, Garcia, who only has the "most wins” record in his country left, which he will probably lose sooner rather than later and his apprentice will finally get a hold of the pitching Triple Crown between all 158 Venezuelan pitchers that have ever set foot in the MLB.

"When I was a kid I used to watch him a lot on TV," Hernandez admits. "I really liked his throwing motion, how aggressive he was and then I actually got to meet him. When I signed, back in 2002, they brought me to Safeco Field where I got the chance to talk to both Freddy Garcia and Carlos Guillén."

Hernandez notes that he followed Garcia's career very closely, citing him as an inspiration to his so far successful career.


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