Hisashi Iwakuma Finishes 3rd in AL Cy Young Award Voting

Hisashi Iwakuma finished 3rd in voting for the 2013 AL Cy Young Award.

Hisashi Iwakuma finished 3rd in voting for the 2013 AL Cy Young Award.

The remarkable season of Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma has resulted in the right-hander finishing in 3rd place for the American League Cy Young Award with 73.0 votes. Iwakuma placed behind winner Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer (203 votes) and Texas right-hander Yu Darvish (93.0 votes).

This is the fourth time in the last five seasons the Mariners have had a pitcher finish in the top 5 for the AL Cy Young Award. Felix Hernandez was 4th in 2012 (41.0 votes), won the award in 2010 (167.0 votes) and ranked 2nd in 2009 (80.0 votes).

Iwakuma had a breakout season going 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA in 33 starts. He ranked 3rd in the AL in ERA and 2nd with a club-record 1.006 WHIP.

Here are some bullet points on his Kuma’s amazing season.

  • Finished his second Major League season going 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA (65 ER, 219.2 IP) in 33 starts (23 quality starts).
  • Ranked 3rd in the American League with a 2.66 ERA…5th-lowest ERA in Mariners history, trailing Felix Hernandez (2.27 in ’10, 2.49 in ’09) and Randy Johnson (2.28 in ’97, 2.48 in ’95).
  • Named Mariners Pitcher of the Year by the Seattle chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
  • Among AL leaders ranked 3rd in innings pitched (219.2), 3rd in opponent batting average (.220), T4th in quality starts (23), T4th in games started (33), 5th in opponent OPS (.630) and 12th in strikeouts (185).

Iwakuma is currently in Japan, but we caught up with Kuma in a Q&A. As you can tell, he is very excited and honored by the voted third for the Cy Young Award by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

What are your feelings about being voted/selected as a finalist for the AL Cy Young Award?
It is such an honor to be one of the finalist for the best award as a pitcher.  I had never thought I would become a finalist here in the U.S. so this is very special to me and is a big surprise.

You quietly became one of the best starting pitchers in the AL last season. Are you proud of how you went about your progression in rising to the top levels of MLB?
Yes, I am very proud and happy with what I have established here in 2 years.  I have learned a lot and it has been quite an experience.  I started my career here in the big league as a reliever and worked my way up.  There is more to learn down the road and more to prove as well, so I look forward to the future. 

You had a strong finish to your first season with the Mariners in 2012, and then continued that in 2013. What are some of your goals for the 2014 season?
I have not set my goals for 2014 in stone yet, but I can say this for now.  Last season was my first full season as a starter.  To be successful, you need to maintain your performance for a long period of time.  That said, I will need to come up with similar or better results that last season and that is what I look forward to doing.

When will you start focusing on the 2014 season and getting your arm in shape? Are you still throwing now?
I have gradually started to prepare/condition myself physically for 2014.  I have not thrown a ball yet since finishing the season but will start soon.  I look forward to preparing my arm early like I did last spring and be ready to go strong by the start of Spring Training to stay healthy for another season. 

What are some of the events you are doing in Japan for MLB?
I have a baseball clinic coming up on the 23rd of November in Ishinomaki, Sendai, where we had the natural disaster. During this time of the year, I like to take my time to give back to the city I played for that supported me for many years and give spirit to the people and kids that dream about baseball. I will also be making an appearance in Tokyo at the MLB Cafe in December to talk about the years and experience in the U.S.


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