Hisashi Iwakuma Solidifies Mariners Rotation
The Seattle Mariners have picked up the option on Hisashi Iwakuma and the starting pitcher will be returning for next season. What does this mean for the 2015 rotation? It means one of its corner stones that made them so good this year is coming back to give the team one of the best 1-2 punches in the game again.
Iwakuma will join Felix Hernandez again atop of one of the best pitching staffs in the American League. Pitching carried the Mariners this year as the offense still had trouble scoring this year. Looking at the offense you wouldn’t have expected the team to have won as many games as it did. That’s when you realize how few runs they let up.
Iwakuma was a big part of that and having him back is crucial. It wouldn’t be surprising if the front offense looked to add another veteran starter through free agency. But making this official means the rotation could look something like this next year: Hernandez, Iwakuma, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and Roenis Elias.
Maybe Walker still isn’t ready for the big leagues and maybe there is too much hype around him considering him bouncing between the minors and majors. But taking a glance at those names in one rotation is exciting to me. This is a rotation that top to bottom is a force. Elias had a great showing last year, Walker is a top prospect for a reason, and James Paxton showed how effective he could be despite injury. With Felix and Iwakuma standing in front of them this rotation will be one of the best again.
I think this also means we can cross any big name free agent pitcher off the Mariners wishlist, and this is a good thing. I don’t think Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, or James Shields were realistic but now I think the Mariners can avoid the Ervin Santana/Francisco Liriano – tier of starters.
Now they can focus more on hitting. You can never have too much pitching or hitting but I think every fan wants to see a more potent offense supporting the fantastic pitching they have gotten the pleasure of seeing and will continue to see with Iwakuma coming back.