Kevin Millwood beats out Hisashi Iwakuma for final spot in Mariners’ rotation


Manager Eric Wedge announced today that Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas will be joined in the Mariners’ rotation by Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan, and Kevin Millwood.

Millwood signed a minor-league deal in January after spending the end of last season with the Rockies and the 37-year-old beat out Japanese import Hisashi Iwakuma for the fifth spot in the rotation.

Iwakuma, who was an elite starter in Japan for his entire career, will begin the season in the bullpen after showing underwhelming velocity. Last offseason the A’s bid $19 million for exclusive negotiating rights to Iwakuma and then balked at paying his asking price, which now looks like a very sound decision. His deal with the Mariners is worth just $1.5 million in upfront money.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.