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
HISASHI IWAKUMA 2.66
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.
In a less-notable move on Friday, the Rays acquired right-hander Wilmer Font from the Athletics in exchange for minor league right-hander Peter Bayer. Font was designated for assignment by the A’s on Wednesday.
This is the second trade involving the righty since the start of the season. The Athletics acquired 28-year-old Font from the Dodgers in late April, but were underwhelmed by his performance after he racked up 11 runs, five home runs, four walks and nine strikeouts in his first 6 2/3 innings of relief. While the rookie has yet to prove himself at the big league level, he posted a much more respectable pitching line with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in 2017, going 10-8 in 25 starts with a 3.42 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 11.9 SO/9 in 134 1/3 innings. It’s still unclear whether the Rays intend to give him another opportunity in the majors this year or use him as depth in the minors.
Bayer, 24, is still a ways away from cracking any major league roster. He advanced to High-A Charlotte prior to the trade and allowed eight runs, two homers, six walks and six strikeouts in his first four innings.