Earlier today Greg Johns reported on Hisashi Iwakuma‘s program for Spring Training in 2015, and how the Seattle Mariners are taking a measured approach with his pitching.
Last season, Iwakuma pitched 179.0 innings for the Mariners in 2014. His 3.52 ERA ballooned late in the season, as his 5 September starts were far from his best. In 23.2 innings he tossed a 7.61 ERA with a 2-3 record. He had as many walks (8) in September as he had in May and June combined.
In hopes of slowing his role and helping ‘Kuma maintain his control throughout the season and hopefully into October, the Mariners are pacing his early work.
Instead of pitching live batting practice, like most of the M’s pitchers, ‘Kuma instead threw his third bullpen of the spring today down in Peoria.
Here’s what Lloyd McClendon has to say about ‘Kuma’s slow roll start to Spring Training:
"“This is by design,” McClendon said. “We’re just stretching him out a little more. Kuma is A-OK and everything is fine. He has no issues at all. I don’t think he needs the live BPs. The guy is such a technician, he gets more done in a bullpen session than he would in a live BP.”"
‘Kuma admitted that he got tired down the stretch last season, and with that exhausting his fastball lost its life, his pitch deception wavered, and his command struggled.
If the Mariners think a slower start to the pitching routine will give ‘Kuma another 25-30 innings of energized pitching, I am all for it. I also think McClendon and Rick Waits will need to be smart with Iwakuma, limiting his innings as best they can in the early goings of the season. The Mariners have one of the deepest and most effective bullpens in the MLB for a reason.
The Mariners know expectations are high this season, and that the playoffs are expected of them. So, as they plan for a season longer than 162 games, they are being sure to take care and support their most valuable assets.