Hisashi Iwakuma leaves Mariners and travels to Japan for “personal reasons”

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Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma has left the team and traveled back to Japan for undisclosed “personal reasons.”

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports that Iwakuma is expected to rejoin the team in time to make his next scheduled start, which is Monday against the Blue Jays, and might even be back in the United States as soon as Saturday.

Iwakuma was an afterthought for the Mariners’ pitching staff early on this season, often going long stretches without being used, but he eventually got an opportunity for a regular role and has thrown 51 innings with a 4.56 ERA split between the rotation and bullpen.

Michael Fulmer likely headed for Tommy John surgery

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Michael Fulmer was the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner. Last year he had his worst season as a major leaguer, finishing 3-12 with a 4.69 ERA and a 110/46 K/BB ratio in 132 1/3 innings. This spring he has been utterly lost in eight innings of work, getting hit hard and exhibiting diminished velocity. A few days ago, the Tigers shut him down and said they’d work on his mechanics.

Now comes the news that no one wanted to hear: the Tigers have announced that Dr. James Andrews has recommended that he get Tommy John surgery.

Fulmer is said to be seeking a third opinion — before Andrews he had an MRI and team doctors feared the worst — but let’s be real about what’s gonna happen here: Fulmer is going to miss the entire 2019 season and, in all likelihood, a good chunk of 2020 as well.

Tough break for Fulmer, one of the few good pitchers the Tigers had developed in some time.