POTD Hisashi Iwakuma - the Cone, Mussina, Hudson family

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Q.  Okay -- a located 90 fastball, two breaking pitches one left and one right, and a wipeout forkball.  Who is like that in the majors?

A.  Also known as the Mike Mussina / David Cone type family.  Precious few pitchers execute 4+ pitches effectively.  Precious fewer do it while using a forkball.

Here is the complete list of the ten ML pitchers who, at any time during 2009-11, threw 10% forkballs or more (Iwakuma throws 20%).  As you can see, there are varying degrees of competence within any given family ...

 

SP % forks, splits
Halladay 16%
Penny 14%
Kuroda 14%
Pelfrey 13%
Haren 13%
Dempster 12%
Hudson 6%
Jeff Neimann 10% in 2012
Zambrano 15% in 2009
Iwakuma 20%

 

As a group, these guys make a fair amount of money, especially in All-Star bonuses.  

There you go.  That is the list of ML pitchers who feature splitfinger and forkball pitches.  As you can see, it's a template that leads the template field.

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COMMENTS:

Zambrano - featured the split in 2009 and 2010 only during his career, running 3.77 and 3.33 ERA's in Wrigley Field

Neimann - Borderline if he belongs here; features FB and power curve 85%, mixes in slider and fork a bit. Good pitcher.  

Halladay - throws four pitches in David Cone style:  FB 25%, cutter/slider 45%, fork 15%, and curve 15%.  What a template

Penny - Has no glove-side breaking pitch (no slider or cutter).  Everything is FB, curve, fork

Kuroda - Borderline if he belongs here.  Very weird 3-pitch arsenal:  Fastball, slider, forkball.  Excellent SP

Dempster - See Kuroda

Mike Pelfrey - Uses Kuroda arsenal.  Along with Ryan Franklin, serves as the bottom floor of what this kind of SP can be

Haren - 3 pitches like Kuroda ... instead of FB-SL-SF, uses FB-cutter-SF, which is far more effective

Nolasco - true 4-pitch, forkball SP.  Would be a star except for execution from the stretch (terrible ERA with RISP)

Tim Hudson - also a true 4-pitch guy at this point

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It's possible that F/X will wind up seeing Hisashi Iwakuma as a 3-pitch guy, if it reads his Shuuto as a fastball.  But if it did, it would still see the ratios as 50% fastball, 25% slider, 25% forkball - many fewer FB's than the other guys' cutters and FB's combined.

(By the way, I was surprised to see that Dice-K came to America and stopped throwing slow stuff.  It was all fastball-cutter-slider, three pitches instead of four or five.  Sigggghhhh.)

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Q.  Is our old friend Ryan Franklin in this category?

A.  As a starter, he was the lower boundary for this category, but Franklin was an extreme flyball pitcher.  Iwakuma is a groundball pitcher.

Honestly, you've got a ways to go to --- > find a 4-pitch "Polished Pro" guy with a forkball, who throws grounders.  It's just a very sophisticated game, one that is difficult to execute, and obviously difficult to hit.

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Q.  So who are Iwakuma's comparables?

A.  He is in the Mussina / Cone family, but red-shifted towards ground balls.  None of these other guys throw a GB-happy Shuuto.  Also, Iwakuma's splitter induces a bizarro GB ratio, and even the FB gets topped.  Iwakuma's GB ratio is over 2:1.

If you're using GB + Diverse Arsenal as the paradigm, you get Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe and Trevor Cahill.

All things considered, I'd go with Hudson as the best comp ... if Hudson threw 20% forks.

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Q.  Is this template really such a slam dunk?

A.  If Iwakuma were becoming an Oakland Athletic, my main hope would be that he wasn't going to execute his pitches crisply in 2012.  I wouldn't hold out a lot of hope that his game, properly executed, wouldn't work.

If Iwakuma throws his shuuto the way he does on YouTube, and if he locates his fastball, and if he mixes his pitches 40-20-20-20, he is going to be effective.

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Klat Categories: 

Comments

Taro, IceX ...Q on Iwakuma's velocity ...

He came back quickly last year on the shoulder, and at times was down to 86 mph ... I think his last start was 86 average and the one before that, 89 or somesuch.

At 89 mph he is an impact pitcher in the bigs ... Jered Weaver is frequently 88-90 mph and it hurts him not one whit...

If Iwamura is tossing 85-87 mph that is a different situation; that makes him Brad Radke plus a forkball ... also a good pitcher, probably, but it makes his job easier if the hitters have to respect his fastball to some extent ...

You have a feel for where Iwakuma is likely to be, after a winter off?

1

Taro's picture

Taro

Velocity declined late in the season and hes never been durable with the arsenal and mechanics. Early-mid season he was the same guy hes always been.

Good buy low IMO, but fragile and needs to be treated such.

He needs to be babied. Skipped starts occasionally, pulled quicker, etc.

2

Just how we pictured it ...

Reminds of Cone and Mussina as they got on in their careers.  The combination of tilted slider, and the splitfinger or knuckle curve, takes a lot out of the shoulder.

Cone and Mussina, even on their very last legs, weren't exactly Anthony Vazquezes :- )

3

Looks like the M's are going to land him. Iwamura himself stated that his best fit is in Seattle and is closest to signing a deal to play there.

This is a great move. He sounds like quality player yet shouldn't cost a ton because he prefers Seattle and there isn't much of a market for him. Could be one of the best value signings of the offseason. This will increase the team's flexibility since they can more comfortably trade away their young pitching. And if they keep all of their pitchers there won't be as great a need to rush them.

It should also give Jack more leverage with Fielder, since he can say that he already has made a big aquisition and so he doesn't need to sign another major free agent.

4

Taro's picture

Taro

I'm with Doc on this one. I think Iwakuma is a very nice value signing and he wants to come to Seattle. As long as you baby him.

I'd take Iwakuma in the middle-end of that list Doc.

Nevermind on Cespedes. After watching more vid of him hitting not as sold on the bat.

5

Hey CPB, Taro -

Suppose you're playing fantasy baseball next year, and Iwakuma is throwing an easy 89-91 next spring -

Where do you take Iwakuma on draft day 2012, cf. to Latos, Bedard, Gio, Matt Garza, Buehrle, Saunders, Dempster, Fister and whoever ...

6

Hershiser + 5 mph at this point.

The guy was bitten by a radioactive giraffe.  Once every 3 starts he leaps a plateau.

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DaddyOI don't feel like writing it this evening, but I can imagine a nice comedic routine about the M's offseason acquisitions with Kevin Mathers playing The Chief and Jack Zduriencik playing Maxewll Smart as they do the old "Would You Believe..." schtick. Jack starts the routine with names like Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and ends up with two pickles and an Elmer Fudd cap.1 hour 13 min ago
Gordon GrossWish we'd see some movement on the Upton and/or Gattis front. You'd think we were trying to get our offseason moves approved by a committee or something.1 hour 48 min ago
Gordon GrossBuster Olney ranked Seager #4 amongst all major league third basemen. We really should have extended him last year like I wanted. ;) Better get that done this offseason before Arb.1 hour 50 min ago
Gordon Gross5/90 for Hanley? Jeez, I would have been thrilled with that. Our 2B/3B being filled with good players already may have dissuaded him - although we would have let him play SS for a few years first. So we're down to Kemp and a secondary add now? Let's not let all the musical chairs get filled, shall we?2 hours 4 min ago
SABR MattI'd have some interest in getting John Jaso back in Seattle to BC, FWIW2 hours 13 min ago
SABR MattSupposedly, Seattle is still interested in Tomas...hanging around the periphery on that front.2 hours 20 min ago
SABR Mattwow...I thought Hanley would be much more expensive than that...and now I'm annoyed that we didn't beat that offer. We *MUST* get Kemp. The small potato stuff (Craig, Van Slyke...vomit) is not going to cut it.2 hours 22 min ago
moethedogSaw that. Two things may result: Craig may be very available (especially if they get Panda, too) and you may be able to move and get Ethier/Van Slyke (LA may be tempted to keep Kemp until they fill a RH bat need).3 hours 5 min ago
merksLooks like Hanley is close to signing with the BoSox. Five years, $90 million is the rumored price.3 hours 11 min ago
moethedogAgree on that, Matt. My thought was that Freiman/Davis/Butler rotate through 1B/DH....Moss is int he OF. Vogt seems odd man out to me.4 hours 34 min ago
SABR Mattand FWIW, the As have way too many guys to play first base for Davis to see significant time. Freiman, Moss, Vogt, Davis, Jaso, Butler...A couple of those3 guys can SORT OF play the outfield (Vogt comes to mind) and Jaso can be the back-up catcher maybe. But...Butler has the DH spot completely locked down and will probably only occasionally get benched against the toughest right-handed bullpen match-ups and when he needs a day off. So that leaves about 15% of the DH at bats and the first base at bats to go to Moss, Freiman, Davis and occasionally Jaso...with Vogt probably relegated mostly to the outfield.5 hours 32 min ago
SABR Mattall that was NL...he'll die in the AL...too many holes in his swing.7 hours 51 min ago
moethedogI've always thought Ike Davis was better than a decent guy to have. Hits lefties like a rusty gate, but his career #'s vs. RHP are .254-.357-.456 (.813). LoMo's are .247-.336-.436 (.768). Even in a "down" year, Davis will was at .765 OPS last year, vR. LoMo was at .695! (His year was carried by his 95 vL PA's: .333-.368-.478). Basically they got him for free, too. Watch them platoon him with Nate Freiman.8 hours 28 min ago
SABR Mattmeh...I don't think he'll do much.9 hours 40 min ago
merksA's acquire Ike Davis for international slot and cash.9 hours 57 min ago
Bat571I think Condor is working back into the good graces, starting with the agent change. He will be expensive for a 4th OF, but if he is the LF (e.g., if Ackley goes for Gattis), I think the Ms will keep him around because of the versatility. With Gattis (~~) able to play LF, Condor could move to CF if needed - not optimum, maybe, but more than adequate until Jones or Kivlehan could be summoned. I agree that the Ms should (and will) put Kivlehan in the OF part-time starting in ST. He'll put in the work and will be pretty good by the AS break, and will get better. All you could ask for.10 hours 46 min ago
moethedogOne Cardinals' site giggles over the acquisition of Ty Kelly. Sigh: http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/a-redesigned-offense BTW, unless you guys figure than James Jones is on the opening day roster or that Bloomie gets the role, we still need a 4th OF who Mac will be willing to use in CF. That was certainly not true with Ackley or Saunders, and one of those guys will be gone. Kemp would do, not so Upton. Ethier has had nearly 120 CF starts over the last two years, BTW. Brad Miller, given the opportunity, would could handle CF, too. Kivlehan will get some early Tacoma CF time...but we need one for Seattle. Perhaps we keep Saunders and he goes there. Not Jones, please. I've soured....15 hours 54 min ago
Bat571And, as I noted in another shout, a deal for Kemp will probably also cost at least 1 bullpen arm; which could mean another chunk off the final amount if it's Wilhelmsen, and a trim if it's Furbush. I'm making the assumption that Erasmo is gone, either to Atlanta in trade or, being out of options, is traded for a propect; that Ackley makes the most sense for the Braves in trade for Gattis; and that Taylor would be an MLB piece in a trade for Kemp. I assume any remaining pieces will be prospects (Guerrero, Morban, Choi), even if Terdoslavich would come with Gattis.1 day 5 hours ago
Bat571Just using the TNT tool -- http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/11/04/3467689/seattle-mariners-2015-free-agent.html -- and adding Gattis ($0.5M - using another FA as proxy), Kemp ($16M - using another FA as proxy), Young ($7M), and HanRam ($22M), and then manually subtracting Ackley, Taylor, and Erasmo ($3.8M total) gives ~$137M. Take HanRam's $22M out and that gives ~$115M, which is $8M more than the $107M. The TNT tool uses the $5M figure for Seager and the $7M figure for Iwakuma. Given the offers for Martin and VMart, I think there's more than $8M in headroom, in any case.1 day 5 hours ago
SABR Mattnot sure where you get 8 mil, Bat...Gattis is cheap but Kemp at 16 mil, Young at 5-6 mil, Iwakuma at 7 mil, Seager at 5 mil...did you factor those in? I get roughly 14 mil up from 107 if we add just Kemp/Gattis.1 day 6 hours ago