Q. What would make you compare Hisashi Iwakuma in any way to an MLB pitcher with over 100 WAR?
A. He's reminding me of Greg Maddux in the same way that Chris Sale is reminding me of Randy Johnson.
The opposing pitchers he has just faced, back to back to back, might be the three best in the league right now, and all pitching for ALCS contenders:
- Justin Verlander, Detroit - W, 2-0 (decision to pen)
- Yu Darvish, Texas - W, 3-1
- Chris Sale, Chicago - L, 3-4 (decision to pen)
The only scalp you'd really like to see to added to that would be Felix's. Maybe Hisashi can figure out a way to pull that one off too.
We won't even count the #2 pitcher for the A's, also defeated by WBC-san this year; you don't put a deer rack on the same wall with your trophies of man-eating tigers and 2,000-lb. wildebeest.
Q. Why only two strikeouts today?
A. He had a lousy fastball.
The fastball was 87 to 89 mph most the day, dropping down to 86. He was taking a short step, steering the ball, rather than the zinging it. As a result, the Tigers were not "in between", not late on the fastball or early on the shuuto or slider.
Give them credit, too; WBC-san would throw a gorgeous shuuto that dropped 4 inches below the knees and the Tigers would leisurely check their swings. That's a tough lineup -- 108 OPS+ even after Wednesday night's 14-IP lockdown -- and it was as sharp as a tack during the game.
So, of course, throwing his B game against a Cabrera-Fielder lineup that was on top of its game, Iwakuma shut them out.
A. Best thing you could do would be to go to the game day and watch the animation. Actually watching that animation will convince you a lot faster than Dr. D could.
Dave Magadan remarked, according to Ken Sims, that Iwakuma is remarkable for his ability to change the eye level with his fastball. He authentically does use the entire zone in a strategic fashion. Then he goes back to his breaking pitches right on the edges of the plate.
Last time out, Kuma had a sharp fastball and he pitched off that. This time, he didn't, and he tortured the Tigers with fastballs to six parts of the zone, following with change-speed-sliders and shuutos.
Q. Who else pitches like that? Precision slowballs up and down the zone, followed by located breaking pitches?
A. Greg Maddux.
Q. Is SSI rethinking its reservations about calling this guy a TOR? An ace?
A. Taking them as a cluster, Iwakuma just beat Sale, Darvish and Verlander. That commands RESPECT. PHXTerry said, before the Sale game, he didn't sweat the matchup because of WBC-san. Okay, fine. If you're fine with Iwakuma vs. David Price, then we've got to give it up for him.
His ERA is 1+ and that's about where it's been since he entered the rotation last year. At this point he's looking more and more like a WBC superstar. Kicking the Americans' keisters the same way Japanese aces do it in the WBC.
At the moment Iwakuma is an ace; he's making Dr. D forget about the pain of Fister, Bedard, and Pineda. Like they say, you ain't gonna get over losing your girlfriend until you get a new one.
The change curve emerged as a dangerous weapon today. The American hitters, laser-focused on his three-pitch 83-88 MPH game, were frozen every time he mixed it in. Things ain't getting easier against WBC-san as we go along here.
Q. Leaving the M's where?
A. Gordon is handling the questions about the offense, which is a little bit like Brandon Morrow carrying around a pink backpack as a rookie. So we'll take the cushy job...
Aaron Harang threw the stuffing out of the ball, I kid you not - he probably had more swings and misses on fastballs (in one game) than Felix has had in a year (in any single game).
Joe Saunders has followed up on his preseason, lifetime 1+ ERA at Safeco, by lowering it in 2013. Don't look now, but we're a Brandon Maurer schuss away from --- > having a championship-level pitching staff.
Two aces, two solid vets, and a hotshot rookie, that's about as good as it gets.
Q. The Felix-Bedard-Fister-Pineda-Vargas rotation didn't take us anywhere. Well, it took us into June or July, kind of.
A. The offense? ... It is making Dr. D as ill as it's making you. Could they start hitting tomorrow? Sure. Could they finish with an 86 OPS+? Sure.
You don't need a blog author to tell you that this offense (A) is a joke right now, and (B) is, at minimum, a Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse better than the old versions.
How's Dustin Ackley looking this week, Gordon? Help a bro' out here man.