TORONTO -- With the Mariners mathematically alive for an American League Wild Card berth, manager Lloyd McClendon said Wednesday he expects Felix Hernandez to make his final scheduled start on Sunday against the Angels.
"That could change, but as we speak now, I fully expect him to pitch," McClendon said prior to facing the Blue Jays for the third of four games in Seattle's last road trip of the year.
The Mariners have Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton and Hernandez lined up to pitch the final three-game series at home against Los Angeles this weekend.
Hernandez gave up a season-high eight runs in 4 2/3 innings in Tuesday's 10-2 loss to Toronto as his ERA rose to 2.34, second in the AL to Chris Sale.
Sale made his final start Wednesday for the White Sox and finished the year with a 2.17 ERA. Even if Hernandez throws nine shutout innings in the finale, his ERA would only drop to 2.25.
With 230 2/3 innings pitched, Hernandez is second in the AL to the Tigers' David Price (241), and the Mariners ace surpassed the 230 mark for the fifth time in the past six years.
He is 14-6 with his 2.25 ERA and a league-leading 0.94 WHIP. He has the second-lowest opponents' batting average at .203 and is fourth in the AL with a career-high 241 strikeouts.
Indians ace Corey Kluber is regarded as his primary challenger for AL Cy Young Award honors. With one remaining start, Kluber is 17-9 with a 2.53 ERA and a league-leading 258 strikeouts in 227 2/3 innings with a 1.10 WHIP and .235 opponents' batting average.
Sale is certainly also in the mix, but he missed time early in the season and has made seven fewer starts than Hernandez. In 26 starts, the White Sox lefty went 12-4 with his 2.17 ERA and 208 strikeouts in 174 innings. He has a 0.97 WHIP and .205 opponents' batting average.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.