Hisashi Iwakuma (quietly) had a really great season


Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma put the finishing touches on a fantastic season last night with eight shutout innings against the Royals, lowering his ERA to 2.66.

That ranks sixth among all qualified starters, behind only Clayton Kershaw, Jose Fernandez, Matt Harvey, Bartolo Colon, and Anibal Sanchez. He also ranks fifth in innings with 219.2, trailing only James Shields among AL pitchers.

And while he’s hardly a household name, Iwakuma’s success dates back to last season. Seattle relegated Iwakuma to a mop up/long relief role to begin last season, but since moving into the rotation he has a 2.66 ERA in 49 starts.

Here’s where that ranks among all MLB starters with at least 200 innings since last year:

Clayton Kershaw     2.20
Matt Harvey         2.39
Kris Medlen         2.54
Johnny Cueto        2.79

You’ll notice that Iwakuma is the only American Leaguer in the top five. David Price has the next-best ERA in the AL at 2.94. And in keeping with the underrated theme, Iwakuma is signed for just $6.5 million next season and the Mariners have a $7 million option on him for 2015.

Dbacks outfielder Steven Souza injured his right shoulder last night

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Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Steven Souza dove for a ball in a spring training game last night, missed, and ended up injuring his right shoulder.

It looked bad, too. Center fielder Jarrod Dyson stood over him, frantically waving to the dugout for a trainer as Souza kicked his legs in apparent pain. Souza held his arms awkwardly as he walked off the field. At the moment the Dbacks are calling it a right shoulder strain, but he’ll get an MRI on it today after which a more specific diagnosis will come.

If Souza is out for a while it’s a pretty big blow to Arizona’s 2018 plan. Souza was acquired to help cushion the blow of losing J.D. Martinez in free agency. While not the hitter Martinez is, Souza hit 30 homers in Tampa Bay last year, stood likely to at least match that in the more hitter-friendly confines of Chase Field and, of course, plays superior defense.

Potential replacements for Souza include moving David Peralta from left to right and inserting Yasmany Tomas in left or having fourth outfielder Dyson, or perhaps a platoon of Dyson and utilityman Chris Owings, handle right. Socrates Brito is another internal option.

Obviously the Snakes will wait to hear the results of the MRI before going too deeply into replacement plans, all the while hoping that Souza’s injury is far less serious than it appeared to be last night.