Seattle Mariners starting pitchers Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma have formed an outstanding combination at the head of the starting rotation. In fact, both aces have combined to be one of the top 1-2 punches in Major League Baseball. However, the rest of the starting rotation has faltered big time.
Seattle’s starters have combined for a 4.13 earned run average, which ranks eighth in the American League. However, if Hernandez’s 1.53 ERA and Iwakuma’s 1.61 ERA were taken out of the equation, the Mariners’ starters would be sitting at the bottom of the rankings. Not to mention, both players have combined for exactly half of the team’s total wins this season.
“They’re unbelievable,” Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley said, according to Mariners.com. “Any time you go out there, you’re like, ‘Let’s just get a couple runs and these guys are going to cruise.’ They are probably, arguably, right now the two best starters in baseball.”
It should not be a big surprise that Hernandez, who was briefly the richest pitcher in the big leagues total value wise, is pitching at a high level. However, many did not expect Iwakuma to be rivaling Hernandez’s numbers. The right-hander is 3-1 with 42 strikeouts and has the best opponent’s batting average (.168) among the starters. He also has the least amount of earned runs (8) among the six pitchers that have made starts for Seattle this season.
Iwakuma dominated in his last two outings in which he posted a combined one earned run on eight hits in 13 innings. The Mariners won both contests against the Los Angeles Angels and Toronto Blue Jays, with Iwakuma getting the victory against the latter.
After Iwakuma, no one in Seattle’s rotation has posted better than a 6.00 ERA. If the Mariners want to improve on their 16-19 record and be competitive in the AL West, the rest of the starters must pull it together.