Hisashi Iwakuma is pitching for the Mariners today. Per fWAR he has been the Mariners second most valuable starter, just behind Nate Karns. In fact Iwakuma's fWAR of 0.9 is second to only Nate Karns' 1.0 for best on the team. Incidentially fWAR has Taijuan Walker at 0.4. So, um, this, um, well, that's silly, frankly.
Kuma has looked far from his 2013-2014 peak levels. His strikeouts are down, his walks are up. His BABIP is way up, but his HR/FB ratio is way down. Like other members of the Mariners rotation who shall remain Felix Hernandez, it's not that Iwakuma has been Bad. But his ceiling on a given start feels much lower than it has in previous years. It now feels like we're hoping for six solid innings, rather than having confidence in the possibility of eight strong.
Facing off against Kuma is the faded glory that was once James Shields. Coming off a bizarre 2015, that saw him set a career high in K% but also allow a home run on almost 20% of his flyballs, Shields has thus far in 2016 seen his peripherals return to normal. His strikeouts and home runs are both lower, and much more in line with career norms, and he's getting more ground balls than normal as well. He's been largely quite effective, and that's why you're seeing his name pop up already in early season trade discussions.
As for the rest of the Mariners, a win today will allow them to squeak by with a 4-4 homestand, which is a miracle when you remember that Safeco is built on a marine layer-saturated indian burial ground or something. Actually the team hasn't been nearly as bad at home this year as it feels like. That probably has something to do with this:
Mariners on Fri-Sun home games: 2-10— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) May 31, 2016
All other games: 27-11
The Mariners are wrapping up one of the last weak stretches of their schedule for months. After the games in San Diego the team plays ten straight against the Rangers and Cleveland, both good to very good baseball teams. With the team spitting the bit against Minnesota it would be very nice to win two of the next three against a weaker opponent.
|SAN DIEGO PADRES||SEATTLE MARINERS|
|Jon Jay - CF||Norichika Aoki - CF|
|Wil Myers - 1B||Seth Smith - LF|
|Matt Kemp - DH||Robinson Cano - 2B|
|Yangervis Solarte - 2B||Nelson Cruz - DH|
|Melvin Upton Jr. - LF||Kyle Seager - 3B|
|Brett Wallace - 3B||Adam Lind - 1B|
|Christian Bethancourt - C||Franklin Gutierrez - RF|
|Alexei Ramirez - SS||Steve Clevenger - C|
|Travis Jankowski - RF||Luis Sardinas - SS|
|James Shields - RHP||Hisashi Iwakuma - RHP|
- Padres @ Mariners, 12:40 PM PDT, Safeco Field
- TV: ROOT, Radio: 710 ESPN, Online: MLB.TV