8 Innings Each In First 3 Starts Says It All
It’s simply amazing to me just how little people take notice of a pitcher like the Seattle Mariners‘ Hisashi Iwakuma. It’s almost like if you can’t throw it 95 MPH and strike out at least a dozen per game, you can’t be considered a dominated pitcher.
I’ve been accused of being “old school” when it comes to my baseball views on more than one occasion, so I’m fully prepared for you to tell me the same about the following.:
Hisashi Iwakuma is a DOMINANT pitcher. Yes, dominant. That is the word I used because anything less is just not accurate.
Does he strike a lot of guys out? No.
Does he throw 95 MPH with his fast ball? No.
Does he make a lot of guys look silly at the plate? No.
Well then how can he be dominate?
It’s simple. He just gets guys out and he pitches a lot of innings. How did we ever arrive at the theory that you had to have all that other crap to be considered a dominate pitcher?
I just don’t get that.
In his three starts this season, Iwakuma has thrown eight innings in each of them. He’s struck out 18 batters in those three starts, which is good, but I don’t think it qualifies as “dominant” under the modern definition.
Where he is dominant, and where it’s often overlooked, is his lack of putting guys on base via the base on balls. Iwakuma has just two walks in those three starts — TWO!
His ability to change speeds from his 89-90 MPH fast ball down to his 83-84 MPH splitter also causes a lot of guys to hit the ball with an off-balance swing. That creates lots of ground balls and popups.
I really despise terms like “fly ball pitcher” or “ground ball pitcher” or phrases like, “he pitches to contact.” To me, that’s the same thing as calling an NFL QB like Russell Wilson a “game manager.” It’s a borderline derogatory term.
How about we just look at what hitters are hitting against Iwakuma? That stat would be just a .189 batting average. If you combined his lack of allowing hits with his lack of allowing walks you arrive at a WHIP stat of just .72.
How good is that number? It’s No. 1 in all of baseball among starting pitchers.
As a batter, Iwakuma might not make you look silly when you swing at his pitches, but your box score certainly looks silly when you spend an evening trying to get a hit off of him.
This is nothing new from Iwakuma, either. This is exactly how he performed last year. He throws a lot of innings and doesn’t allow a lot of hits or walks.
That formula led to him being third in the AL Cy Young race last year. His numbers in most categories were better than King Felix Hernandez had.
Enough of this “he’s not dominant” stuff.
Iwakuma was a legit Cy Young candidate last year and is off to a blazing start for the same this year. Whether you throw 97 MPH or not, whether you strike out half of the batters you face or not, Iwakauma gets the job done. He just get’s guys out.
And that should be good enough for anyone.