POTD Hisashi Iwakuma - the Cone, Mussina, Hudson family


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.



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


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.)


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.


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.


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.




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?

Taro's picture

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.


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 :- )


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.


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 ...

Taro's picture

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.

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Chat: 9/2/15 12:03pm
Interests: WNBA (215952)
Storm Rallies To Win Over Mystics, by SABR Matt

The Seattle Storm came back from a 14-point deficit to beat the Washington D.C. Mystics 69-59 in front of 5,000+ fans on August 30th.The game didn’t start out very promising, as the Mystics took an early 22-13 lead going into the second quarter.  This was partially because they were beating...Show more.

Storm Rallies To Win Over Mystics, by SABR Matt

The Seattle Storm came back from a 14-point deficit to beat the Washington D.C. Mystics 69-59 in front of 5,000+ fans on August 30th.The game didn’t start out very promising, as the Mystics took an early 22-13 lead going into the second quarter.  This was partially because they were beating the Storm at rebounding 13-6, many of those rebounds coming at the offensive end and earning the Mystics 4 second chance points.  Throughout the first half, all the foul calls seemed to be going against the Storm (11-3 against the Storm in fouls called at 6:32 in the second quarter).  Seattle looked slow and out-of-rhythm on both offense and defense, and even when they had good shot attempts the ball just wasn’t going down.  At halftime, they trailed 30-39.The second half saw the Storm play much better basketball.  The offense really shaped up behind Crystal Langhorne’s 8 points in the third quarter, made both on points in the paint and a couple of jumpers.  The Storm finished the quarter on a 12-0 run and led 50-48 going into the fourth.  Their much-improved team offense continued into the final period as they opened with a 7-0 run.  Jewel Loyd continued to attack the basket during that time, earning herself trip after trip to the free throw line.  A few defensive breakdowns allowed the Mystics to go on a 7-0 run of their own midway through the fourth quarter as they pulled to within 2 of the Storm.  Jenna O’Hea hit a big-time 3 and Jewel’s persistent attacks in the paint led the Storm to finally beat the Mystics 69-59.Ramu Tokashiki and Abby Bishop were once again absent, Tokashiki helping the Japanese National Team qualify for the Olympics, Bishop out with a hamstring injury.Just like in the last game, an excessive number of fouls were called on little to no contact, forcing Alysha Clark onto the bench with 1:55 left in the first quarter and 3 early fouls.  Fouls continued to cripple Seattle’s already beleaguered front court as Markeisha Gatling and Quanitra Hollingsworth had 3 and 2 respectively by 6:37 in the second quarter.  A total of 2 technical fouls (not counting defensive three-second violations) were called on the Mystics, one on Mike Thibault and one on Ivory Latta.  Unfortunately Jenna O’Hea, who shot the free throws for each technical (and a defensive 3-second violation), missed 2 of the total 3, although she was 4/4 on her other free throw attempts.  Maybe being alone at the foul line freaked her out?  Jewel Loyd, despite shooting only 2 of 6 from the floor, made all 14 of her free throws for totals of 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and only 1 turnover.  Another nice stat line for the almost certainly rookie of the month of August.Crystal Langhorne had another great game.  She shot 0/2 from the floor and committed 2 turnovers in the first few minutes of the game, but after that got 15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 ferocious blocks, and some really nice passes from the high post that I never even knew she was capable of.  If she keeps passing like that and gains some more confidence in her outside shots, she’d go from dangerous to unstoppable, so hopefully this is a sign of new moves yet to come from the All-Star.Jenna O’Hea also showed great effort, getting 8 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals, and rightfully joined Jewel Loyd as co players of the game for Seattle in the post-game interview.Washington had even production from several different players, including 12 points from Ivory Latta, 10 points and 6 rebounds from Emma Meeseman, and 10 points and 4 rebounds from Kia Vaughn.  Bria Hartley also had 3 assists and 3 steals to go along with her 8 points, and Natasha Cloud came back from getting (accidentally) whacked a GOOD one in the nose by Jewel Loyd in the first quarter to score 8 points with her 4 rebounds and assists apiece.With this win, the Storm are now 9-9 at home this year, something of a relief to us fans.  We’re still only 2 games up on San Antonio, so no need to worry about them edging us out for the biggest odds on the number 1 pick in next year’s draft.  Yet.- See more at: http://basketball.se...

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    Shouts update every 10 seconds.       
2015-09-02 15:19

Montero's been slumping badly...so...not sure I blame the Mariners for not starting him.

2015-09-02 15:06

Apparently it wasn't Z who hated Montero...

2015-09-02 14:52

Looks like Romero (RF) and O'Malley (CF) in the lineup today. I've long said both can hit MLB lefty arms. They're sure facing a tough one today: Gulp!! But I'll stand by my claim and I hope they get a reasonable number of opps going forward.

2015-09-02 14:49

There have been times I've noticed multiple thread re-starts in a short time span. Usually they corresponding to when Klat is working with feature updates. So it makes me wonder if there are times when a single admin-initiated update is the same thing. There's been times where it's clear that some feature testing is done "live."

2015-09-02 14:45

And I agree that functionality of neither the one-column or the multi-column are ideal at this point. I just discovered this morning what you mentioned, that you can't page back to a previous shout thread in one-column mode to continue a previous discussion. At least not this morning you can't. It simply disappears. One moment you are in a conversation, then poof!, midstream it disappears seemingly forever.

It just seemed to me that someone working at his job that serves the public ought to at the very least be treated with a minimum of public respect unless he himself first becomes purposely rude to the public. If you've ever worked with the public before (I did for some years in my younger days) you quickly learn that sometimes you are subjected to a lot of abuse for just doing your job, and sometimes you are prevented from explaining or answering back.

2015-09-02 14:34

I definitely agree that starting new shout threads in the middle of the day makes no sense barring some reason opaque to us. If we are going to have admin-initiated thread starts it makes sense for it to occur either late at night or very early in the morning, taking into account any time zone differences between admins and PST.

2015-09-02 14:25

I admit, my last comment on the subject was, perhaps, a tad snarky. But I felt it was a good way to make my point, yet again, that multiple shout threads does not make any sense, and it ruins the flow of conversation.

2015-09-02 14:24

DaddyO...I care about the future of this site, as I know we all do. This community means a great deal to me. I rather intensely dislike the multiple shout threads concept and would dearly appreciate an explanation, from KLAT, as to why they think it's such a good idea. If, for example, it were easy to see multiple different shout conversations at once, an, in so doing, keep topics separated from each other and conversations more natural, that would be great...but, as it stands right now, if you're using the multiple thread view, it's really hard to see what's happening, and if you're using the single thread, the previous conversation disappears entirely...and even in multi-thread...you can't keep commenting on the older threads! I want to know why they think this is helpful to their business model or to their community.

2015-09-02 14:11

DaddyO, why are you such an apologist for KLAT? Seriously, these guys are adults. They can take a little bit of ribbing. It's not that big a deal.

2015-09-02 14:11

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, no, I did not write the opener for this "conversation"...I'm not certain I've ever bothered to watch more than five minutes of any #WNBA game.

2015-09-02 14:09

Josh loves to kill conversations.

2015-09-02 14:09

This Shout UI is horrendous. Sorry. But it is.

2015-09-02 14:09

Matt, love ya, man, but you might want to take things a little easier on Josh. While I admit starting a new conversation effectively and abruptly ends the previous one midstream (and that can be frustrating), he may have had unrelated reasons for doing it. Just speculation here, but perhaps they are working on something under the hood that required it. It could even be they are working on some capability you have requested. I'm not saying that's the case, but my guess is Josh is just doing his job the best he can.

2015-09-02 13:38

You mean killing the existing conversation, ey Josh?

2015-09-02 12:03

Starting a conversation...