Last year Hisashi Iwakuma spent the beginning of his rookie season mopping up for the Mariners, but the veteran right-hander from Japan thrived when given a chance to join the starting rotation and has quietly been one of the best pitchers in baseball since.
Lost in the craziness of yesterday’s 16-inning White Sox-Mariners marathon is that Iwakuma tossed eight shutout innings, making him 14-5 with a 2.31 ERA in 29 career starts in the majors. During that time he has a 157/41 K/BB ratio in 183 innings and has held opponents to a .220 batting average.
But wait, here’s the most impressive stat: Among all MLB pitchers at least 175 innings worth of starts since the beginning of last season Iwakuma’s 2.31 ERA as a member of the rotation is the best, followed by Clayton Kershaw at 2.35. No one else is below 2.65.
The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins. Craig Mish of Sirius XM was the first to report that the deal was done. Ozuna still has to take a physical.
There is no report yet about what the Cards had to give up to get Ozuna, but given that the Cards and Marlins put a deal together for Giancarlo Stanton, the sides certainly have discussed various Cards prospects recently.
Ozuna fills a major need for the Cardinals, who had serious weaknesses in the middle of the order in 2017. Last year their number three hitters hit a combined .246/.338/.425 and their cleanup hitters hit 270/.350/.444. Ozuna, 27, had a fantastic offensive year in 2017, hitting .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs and 124 RBI in 159 games.
Ozuna made $3.5 million this past season and is due for arbitration this offseason. He is under contractual control through 2019.