The Seattle Mariners have already racked up 10 wins out of their first and second starters this season. Fantasy baseball owners expected team ace, Felix Hernandez, to get off to a lights out start, but not many pegged Hisashi Iwakuma to put up comparable numbers over the first quarter of the fantasy season.
Iwakuma has really matured in his second year in the MLB though. He currently has an unthinkable 1.84 ERA and an even more respectable 0.78 WHIP. The 32-year-old has shockingly gone 5-1 this season, but yet his start has gone practically unnoticed.
The most telling statistic is that Iwakuma is holding opposing hitters to a mere .167 batting average while only allowing them to get on base 20.5 % of the time this season. He is also striking out 8.88 batters per nine innings, which is much higher than the 7.25 he averaged in 2012. He has also mixed in his breaking pitches much more efficiently and his splitter has been absolutely impossible for opposing hitters to track.
According to FanGraphs, the righty doesn’t exactly have overpowering stuff, as his fastball is averaging just 89.4 MPH and his splitter is averaging 81.0 MPH. However, Iwakuma is hitting his spots on every pitch and is simply outthinking opposing hitters.
Iwakuma obviously won’t continue to be a fantasy ace all season, but his hot start has proven that he is a legitimate arm. He will slowly start to come down to earth, but he can still be used as a third fantasy option for the rest of the year.