Welcome Back, Hisashi Iwakuma

And boy do the M’s need you

It cannot be understated how important it was to see the Seattle Mariners activate starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma from the 15-day disabled list on Saturday.

With starters James Paxton and Taijuan Walker both on the DL as well, the bullpen has been pushed into a lot of extra innings of duty out there, and it’s taken its toll on some of the guys.

Losing Iwakuma was a major blow to the M’s.  You simply can’t forget that Iwakuma was someone who was a serious part of the AL Cy Young discussion in 2013.  Iwakuma threw over 219 innings last year and compiled a 14-6 record.  By comparison, that’s more innings thrown and more wins than Felix Hernandez had last year.

Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners

Welcome back. (Photo: REUTERS Anthony Bolante)

The most impressive stat Iwakuma had in 2013 revolves around his control.  He only walked 41 batters on the year compared with 185 strikeouts.  A 4.40 SO/W ratio?  Yah I’d say that’s pretty good.

All these impressive numbers were noticed too.  Iwakuma finished 3rd in the Cy Young race and made the All Star team.  He finished 19th in the MVP race, three spots ahead of Felix.

The Return

It might not have been his best game ever, but Iwakuma did throw a pretty good game in his first outing since being recalled from the DL. He managed to throw 6.2 innings on just 81 pitches.  He looked to tire in the 6th inning, which had to be expected given that he hasn’t had an opportunity to get stretched out yet this season.

His control was pretty sharp.  He was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes when he wanted to.  He threw 56 of his 81 pitches for strikes and only walked one batter.  Officially he gave up four runs in the 6.2 innings, but the last run charged to him was a runner he left at first base with two outs when he was taken out of the game.

More To Come

I believe this is the beginning of a waive of key players returning to the M’s roster.  Taijuan Walker should follow Iwakuma back to the rotation in a few weeks.  That will allow the M’s to move either Chris Young or Roenis Elias into the bullpen and let one of their weaker bullpen guys like Charlie Furbush go back to AAA.

How soon that happens is hard to know for sure.  Walker is currently just playing catch with no problems so far.

Walker must progress to some bullpen sessions and then at least a couple of rehab starts in the minors before the M’s entertain the idea of putting him back in the rotation.   I figure best-case scenario is that he’s back in the rotation by Memorial Weekend.

GM Jack Zduriencik says the he expects Walker and James Paxton to both be back in the rotation by June 1.  Having a rotation of Hernandez, Iwakuma, Paxton, Walker and Young would be a real boost for the M’s fans and for their bullpen.


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About Brian Scott

Husband, Philosopher, Animal Rights Advocate, and Author Brian is a Spokane native and Gonzaga University grad. Seahawks, Mariners, GU Hoops and Cougar football are the teams that drive his passion for sports. You can catch him on twitter too! Connect with Brian today!
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