Hisashi Iwakuma returns from Japan, fans 13 Blue Jays

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A whirlwind week for Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma culminated in far and away the best start of his major league career Monday against the Blue Jays.

Iwakuma, just back from Japan after returning home to visit his ailing father, limited the Jays to one run in eight innings and struck out 13 in his second big-league victory.

A mop-up man after a poor spring, he didn’t even make his first appearance until the Mariners’ 15th game of the year. As of May 30, he had pitched all of five times. However, he started getting more work last month and he moved into the rotation earlier in July. He’s now put together three very good starts in a row, allowing four runs over 19 innings against the Rays, Yankees and Blue Jays.

The 31-year-old Iwakuma was a very successful pitcher in Japan, so the first few months in the U.S. had to be quite a shock for him. He may not have many more starts like this, but he looks like a perfectly legitimate third or fourth starter for Seattle. With the way he’s coming along, he might make Jason Vargas more expendable.

Diamondbacks sign Kris Medlen and Antonio Bastardo to minor-league deals

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Arizona Diamondbacks have signed pitchers Kris Medlen and Antonio Bastardo to minor-league deals. Medlen will make $1.1 million if he breaks camp with the Snakes. Bastardo will earn at $1.5 million if he makes the team.

Medlen hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2016 and hasn’t pitched effectively in the bigs since 2013 due to multiple Tommy John surgeries and, more recently, shoulder ailments. Last year he put up a 4.95 ERA in 20 games in the Braves’ minor league system. If he’s healthy he could be a depth guy for the Dbacks in the event one of their big league starters go down.

Bastardo pitched in nine games, ineffectively, for the Pirates before being released last season. He didn’t catch on anywhere else after that so, hey, I guess he’s fresh?