"When it's his time, he wants to be out there and I understand that. To be honest, I love that. He wants to compete and face hitters," interim manager Daren Brown said Wednesday. "That's what we all love about him and what makes him the pitcher he is. But at the same time, we're going to do what's best for Felix and what's best for the organization."
Hernandez (13-12) allowed one run over eight innings in a 3-1 victory over Texas on Tuesday night for his 30th quality start of the season. The right-hander has an AL-best 2.27 ERA, and leads the league with 249 2-3 innings pitched — up from 238 2-3 innings last season and 200 2-3 innings in 2008.
After his 34th start of the season, Hernandez made it clear that he wants to pitch the finale Sunday at home against Oakland.
"Oh, yeah. Definitely," Hernandez said. "It's five days on Sunday, I've got to pitch. It's not enough, one more start."
Hernandez joked that if he's told he won't be starting that he might go out to the mound before Sunday's game and warm up anyway.
Brown said that the Mariners might have to "find some chains somewhere" to keep him off the mound if that's the decision.
"I understand all the individual achievements at the end of the year, but you've also got to be smart about it. A lot of things come into that," Brown said. "You're looking at a 24-year-old kid who's the cornerstone to the rotation for as long as he's in Seattle."
Hernandez has pitched at least seven innings in 25 consecutive starts, a Mariners record, and is only the seventh pitcher in the majors since 1980 with 30 quality starts (three earned runs or fewer while pitching at least six innings).
The others pitchers with 30 quality starts in a season all won Cy Young Awards — Steve Carlton (1980), Dwight Gooden (1985), Mike Scott (1986), Bret Saberhagen (1989), Greg Maddux (1992) and Randy Johnson (2002). All except Scott were also 20-game winners those years.
Asked about the possibility of winning the AL Cy Young Award this season, Hernandez said he has done his part.
"We'll see. I have great numbers, I think. I don't have a vote, but I have good numbers," he said. 'The wins aren't there, but it's not in my hands."
Hernandez has gotten little run support all season. In his 12 losses, the Mariners have scored a total of eight runs while he was on the mound — and no runs in his last five losses since mid-July.