Results tagged ‘ Kuma ’

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.


Patience Pays Off For Iwakuma

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Seattle Mariners

Hisashi Iwakuma went 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA, ranking 3rd in the AL in ERA in 2013.

The Hisashi Iwakuma story is one of recovery, consistency and quietly becoming one of the very best starting pitchers in Major League Baseball.

The numbers as a starter for the Seattle Mariners are impressive: 8-4 with a 2.65 ERA in 2012, and 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA in 2013.  Even more impressive is the rehabilitation “Kuma” did in 2012 as he recovered from shoulder problems he dealt with in 2011 during his final season with the Rakuten team in Japan.  The arm issues forced him to miss over two months during the 2011 season.

Fully aware of his arm problems, the Mariners signed him anyway.  When he reported to 2012 training camp in Peoria, AZ, his shoulder weakness was apparent.  General Manager Jack Zduriencik said, “Our training staff did a great job.  Congratulations to them for getting this guy healthy.  They put him on a very specific training program to strengthen his shoulder.”

He pitched sparingly in Cactus League games and he started the regular season as the last man in the bullpen.  Jack added, “There wasn’t pressure to get him into the starting rotation right away.  He was able to take the time necessary to rebuild the strength in his arm.”  As a result, Kuma pitched in relief just twice in April and three times in May.

Finally on July 2, all the hard work in the training room and in the bullpen paid off for Kuma and the Mariners.  Zduriencik added, “When the opportunity to start presented itself, he did a great job.  The new training program worked for him.  Since then, he has been one of the best in the game.”

Even though he was bothered by a blister on his middle finger over the first few weeks of the 2013 season, Iwakuma failed to complete at least five innings in only one start.  His work didn’t go unnoticed around the American League, as evidenced by his selection to the 2013 A.L. All-Star team.

His traditional stats in 2013 (14 wins, 2.66 ERA) and advanced stats (1.006 WHIP, 6.9 WAR) just begin to tell the story.

Congratulations to Kuma and the Mariners training staff!  His dedication and hard work in the first half of 2012, paved his road to recovery and success.

– RA

Taking a Closer Looks at Iwakuma’s Season


With the 2013 season winding down, we thought it would be good to put the season of Hisashi Iwakuma into perspective. A couple of words come to mind: impressive, dominating, masterful. There are a number of great pitchers that have had excellent seasons in 2013, and we hope Kuma finds his name on the ballots of several baseball writers when they vote for the Cy Young Award. The following statistical notes show how dominating he was in his second Major League 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).
  • Ranks 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 ’01) and Randy Johnson (2.28 in ’97, 2.48 in ’95).
  • Among AL leaders also ranks T1st in games started (33), 2nd in innings pitched (219.2), 3rd in opponent batting average (.220), T3rd in quality starts (23), 6th in opponent OPS (.630) and T9th in strikeouts (185).
  • Record 5 no-decisions when pitching at least 6.0 innings with 0 ER allowed, tied for most during the searchable era (since 1916) with Roger Clemens in 2005…posted a 2.88 ERA (27 ER, 84.1 IP) in 13 no-decisions.
  • Ranks 2nd in the AL and set a Mariners single-season record with a 1.006 WHIP (Walks + Hits per IP).
  • Led the Majors and set a Mariners record with 10 starts where he pitched at least 6.0 innings and did not allow an ER (5-0, 5 no-decisions)…Felix Hernandez recorded 9 starts of 6.0 or more IP, 0 ER in 2009.
  • Went 4-0 with a 1.62 ERA (10 ER, 55.2 IP) over his final 8 starts of the season (8/16-9/25) to lower ERA from 3.02 to 2.66.
  • Went 2-0 with a 0.76 ERA (3 ER, 35.2 IP) in 5 starts in September…2nd-lowest ERA in a month in club history (min. 4 GS), trailing only the 0.50 mark by Mark Langston in September 1988 (3 ER, 53.2 IP, 6 GS).
  • Selected to his first All-Star game, but did not pitch due to starting the final game before the All-Star break.
  • Pitched in a career-high 219.2 innings, besting his Japanese career-high of 201.2 IP during his Pacific League MVP season in 2008…IP total was T3rd-most by a Japanese born pitcher trailing only Hideo Nomo (228.1 in 1996, 220.1 in 2002).
  • Ended the season with a streak of 23.0 consecutive scoreless innings, including 8.0 scoreless innings in his season finale Sept. 25 vs. KC.
  • Recorded a career-high 23.2 scoreless innings streak May 26-June 10 (8th-longest in club history)…did not allow an ER in 31.2 consecutive innings (5/26-6/17), the 2nd-longest streak in club history (34.0 IP, Mark Langston, 1988).
  • Was the only MLB pitcher with two scoreless streaks of at least 20.0 innings during the season…joins Freddy Garcia (2001) as the only pitcher in club history with a pair of scoreless innings streaks of at least 20.0 IP in a single season.
  • Recorded 25.0 consecutive scoreless innings on the road to end the season, tied for the longest streak in club history (8/21-9/18)…Brian Holman (6/27-7/19/84) and Randy Johnson (5/25-6/15/94) also had road scoreless streaks of 25.0 innings…recorded the 3rd-lowest road ERA in club history at 2.45, trailing Felix Hernandez (1.99 in ‘09) & Randy Johnson (2.45 in ‘95).
  • Recorded 10 starts without walking a batter, T2nd-most in the AL (Colon – 12, Price – 10) and T2nd-most in club history (Moyer – 11 in 2002)…ranked 3rd in AL with 1.72 BB/9.0 IP and 4th with 4.40 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
  • Tied for the AL lead with 4 starts where he recorded 7 or more strikeouts without allowing a walk (Ervin Santana – KC & David Price – TB).
  • Matched career-high (6 times) with 8.0 innings pitched…was only 2-0 with 4 no-decisions (1.69 ERA) when pitching 8.0 innings.
  • Opened the season going 7-1, 1.79 ERA in his first 14 starts of the season (ranked 2nd in the AL in ERA following 6/10 start vs. HOU).
  • Held opponents to a .184 average with runners in scoring position (26×141) and .111 with RISP/2 outs (7×63).
  • Since making his first MLB start on July 2, 2012, combined to go 22-10 with a 2.66 ERA, the 6th-lowest ERA in the Majors during that span.