The former Mariners All-Star starting pitcher is retiring at the end of the Nippon Professional Baseball season
Hisashi Iwakuma is one of the best starting pitchers in Mariners history, and there have been some really good ones. Something about his quiet demeanor was likable among fans, and he accumulated an impressive resume while playing in Safeco Field.
Iwakuma came from Japan after his 2011 season with the Rakuten Eagles after becoming one of the best pitchers in Japan and being an integral part of the World Baseball Classic team for Japan in 2009. He had multiple offers from around the league, but he chose Seattle after liking the feeling of the city. The Japanese pitcher could have signed a larger contract, but he went with a small one year offer from the Mariners.
Mariners fans of course should be thankful he did end up going for a smaller amount of money because man, he was great in Seattle. Iwakuma holds an outstanding 3.42 ERA, a 63-39 record, and 714 strikeouts from 2012-2017. His best season was in 2013 when he finished third in AL Cy Young voting and he had a 14-6 record with an amazing 2.66 ERA for that season.
What is more impressive is that Iwakuma outperformed Felix Hernandez in 2013 who was in his prime. Iwakuma was an All-Star that year as well. Another impressive Iwakuma fact is he threw the fifth no-hitter in Mariners’ history in 2015. Iwakuma became only the second Japanese pitcher in MLB history to throw a no-hitter as well.
What was even cooler for me is that I was at the game when he threw his no-hitter against the Orioles. It was a rainy day and the roof was closed and the fans grew excited after every inning. The stadium was surprisingly filled against a subpar Orioles team. After the final out, the stadium went crazy and it was such an electric moment to be a part of.
Iwakuma was such a likable player among Mariners fans. He may be forgotten around the league, but true Mariners fans will never forget him. Kuma is now 39 years old and playing for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, and he just announced that he will retire at the end of the season.
In his 19 years of professional baseball he has a combined 3.31 ERA and a 171-109 record between the MLB and Japan. Iwakuma is one of those Japanese baseball players to make the move to the MLB and succeed, making a large influence on Japanese baseball just like Ichiro.
We are all happy for you Kuma. Enjoy retirement.