Q. What exactly did Rakuten do to him, again?
A. Rakuten had posted Iwakuma, and got jobbed out of 20 million bucks, and Iwakuma came back for a sour lame-duck season. You know, like if Prince Fielder had a signed contract in New York beginning in 2013, and then trudged back to play with a Brewer shirt on for 2012. Big fun.
Rakuten weren't exactly honorable as it pertained to the rest of Iwakuma's career.
OK, form circles between fingers and thumbs, cross legs, breathe deeply, allow the light to permate your soul ... now imagine vividly that, in April 2011, we had done this to Erik Bedard:
|Opening Day||8.1 IP 108 pitches||Tried to make him finish the 9th|
|Start 2||9.0 IP 120 pitches||10 strikeouts, 0 walks|
|Start 3||9.0 IP 147 pitches!||13 strikeouts, 3 walks|
|Start 4||7.0 IP 97 pitches||Velocity down, K/BB way off|
|Start 5||8.2 IP 131 pitches||Good velo|
Now imagine that in start 6, Erikkk's shoulder was barking and he had to be withdrawn after 37 pitches. He then went on the DL for two months.
Erikkk comes back, ten weeks later, and ... throws 7 consecutive quality starts?! From there to all the way to the end of the year, Erikkk pitched into the 7th, 8th, or 9th inning every start, going into his last start with a 2.18 ERA on the year.
You tell me. Is Erikkk's velocity going to be fading at the end of the year? Does that alarm you, or do you simply figure that people are going to be sucking wind at the end of 13.1 mile runs?
Q. Okay. What would make you think that Iwakuma might NOT be able to hit 90 mph again?
A. Just the Mussina pattern. The mileage piles up and the mph diminishes...
When last seen, Iwakuma was throwing REALLY slow, like 84 mph. :shrug: Wait and see. That becomes March's number one watch item, Iwakuma's velocity.
Q. What if he IS throwing 85 mph?
A. It's next to impossible, in the American League, to pitch effectively with an 85 mph fastball for more than a year at a time. Right now there are what, four pitchers in the game who average less than 87 mph -- Livan, Buehrle, Marcum and Suppan.
If batters don't have to respect an SP's fastball, then they're not out in front on the forkball.
That said, a pitcher doesn't have to average 90. He has to throw some pitches at 90-91. ML hitters don't want a 90 fastball locking them up.
Q. How can I root for a guy here for one season?
A. Well, nothing's written in stone. If Iwakuma is the 13th-best SP in the AL, and grooving to the tune of a
Q. Bottom line?
A. I give a 60-70% chance, just guessing here, that Iwakuma's arm is okay next March. If it is, forget the talk about "at best a mid-rotation guy." He's got an ERA of 0.02 in the WBC and you're looking at a full-on Doug Fister, plus forkball.
If his shoulder is torn, rather than strained, it's Hultzen Time. But don't they give physicals for $1.5M pitchers, too?
What would you rather have: Dan Haren for $20M, or a 60-40 chance at a Haren, for free? Hm.