Hisashi Iwakuma has been sterling since escaping the bullpen prison Wedge sentenced him to at the start of the season. Since the All-Star break, Iwakuma has allowed 15 earned runs in 54.2 innings pitched for a 2.49 ERA. Almost all of his starts have been described as either a “solid start” or a “dominant performance”. The highlight was his 13 strikeout performance against Toronto on July 30th as he handcuffed the Blue Jays over eight fantastic innings. He didn’t have his best stuff tonight against the Twins but still ended with allowing zero earned runs and only one hit over six innings.
So what does it take for the Mariner organization to offer this man a generous contract extension? He is in his prime at age 31 and has proven himself with great start after great start. He deserves a contract and Wedge should have to deliver it to him in a pink kimono along with a deep bow and a sincere apology after burying him on the bench while pitchers with less talent, especially Noesi, were allowed to get torched. Hisashi was the last player on any team’s opening roster this year to appear in a game. This had to have been humbling for such a proud, professional who while pitching in Japan in 2008 lead the league in ERA, winning percentage-he was 21-4- and only allowed three homers in 201 and two-thirds innings. He out-pitched both Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish in the 2009 Baseball Classic, finishing the tournament with a 1.35 ERA.
Supposedly, he was still recovering from an arm injury and that is why he was passed over as a starter and put into long relief to start the season. That may or may not be accurate and I too was watching as he good turned up a few times in relief but I wonder if his talent was not recognized or his past accomplishments were considered invalid, somehow. In short, it certainly looks like a mistake now after what he has done since becoming a regular starter. I wonder where the Mariners would now be if he had been given an opportunity sooner or been a part of the rotation from the start. Would Seattle be over five hundred? No doubt in this old mind. The answer is, “Yes!”
A press conference should be called and the man given an extension. If he signs elsewhere next year, I promise I will pelt someone of significance with a few of my prized tomatoes at Safeco.