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.

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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

............

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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Comments

1

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?

2
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.

3

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 :- )

4

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.

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 ...

8
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: 6/30/15 11:58pm
Interests: Health (185903)
A question:  When was the last time a ML...Read more.
    Shouts update every 10 seconds.       
2015-07-03 23:42

Of COURSE the M's put on an offensive show tonight. I didn't get to watch a snitch of the game. Happens every time.

2015-07-03 22:45

Elias, Nuno, Bartender to AAA.

2015-07-03 20:34

Hell of an offensive show tonight. But....what will tomorrow bring

2015-07-03 17:47

Kind of forced to listen to a guy with that offensive track record. Zunino sure looks like he's buying in.

2015-07-03 17:37

They *are* playing to be the tailenders aren't they? If they hit last place in a 1-division league, just keep in mind. Edgar. Is. Good.

2015-07-03 17:19

Got a shot for last in the AL tonight. Are the Mariners considered an addiction for those of us who follow so close? Not sure how I can still get excited to spend my Friday night watching this team, but I do!

2015-07-03 17:04

Lil video on espn ap on non-stars.. guy picked Cano number 1. Hard to blame him, and that's the national attention this team has. He definately isn't playing up to par or his paycheck, and it seems to be contagious. On paper....hmm wow not bad, but on field...ummm? Big changes coming up ahead.

2015-07-03 16:34

robinwilliamsmovietitle...quite sweet. It's #Independence Day, it's hot, and clearly my brain is a little addled this afternoon.

2015-07-03 15:34

Rollins has been looking dominant in Tacoma. Decisions, decisions.

2015-07-03 10:59

On Taijuan, edit to add that he looked terrif after 76 pitches but the NL strategy played in to it. And so happened to pay off in a full nickels bin, as it were ...

2015-07-03 10:57

DaddyO … but how sweet is it to have the Taylor/Logo combo in, and Willie out … got to give it up that the M's ate the contract. Politically it's not easy either; you make a decision to give a "reach" contract and then next midseason you admit it was a reach. Very tough to do in a boardroom.

2015-07-03 10:56

Kazmir would have shut out any lineup in the majors on Thursday … not to say our offense doesn't have problemos but Kazmir could not miss the glove, even with his curve ball. If it were bowling he'd have scored 301.

2015-07-03 10:55

Taijuan gets quick hooks in lieu of / in addition to an IP count. Probably has its benefits. The last 10-20% of your reps cost as much wear-and-tear as the first 80-90% ...

2015-07-03 10:24

I question the quick hook on Taijuan more than Felix... 72 pitches and done? Did he look that bad after so few pitches?

2015-07-03 07:02

#Jordan Pries needed 33 pitches to get one out in the 1st w/Tacoma last night. 5 ER's, 2 BB's, 3 hits and two homers. Rollins, now on rehab, threw two innings of zero run ball. 1 hit and 4 K's. Beimel is likely gone soon.

2015-07-03 06:51

Yup zERO consistency.. they we're going for their first 3 game shutout in 7 years. Honestly.. where is the all star break

2015-07-03 06:07

This team is just sad.

2015-07-03 00:05

The Mariners are incapable of winning streaks. Losing streaks maybe, but not winning ones.

2015-07-02 21:04

The worst part of tonight... Billy Beane will now get more for Kazmir when he trades him, so today's lack luster game will haunt us for years to come.

2015-07-02 18:40

As expected, the first five minutes of the pregame show were spent gushing about Willie Bloomquist and what a shame it is His Belovedness has to move on. And my worst fear was realized. They opined about how once he hangs 'em up, perhaps he might come back and join the M's media team. Again, he's probably a nice guy. But I don't wanna see him. To me he represents all that is wrong with the Mariners.

2015-07-02 17:21

I think we, and alot of people, just expect so much of Felix. It was a rare game overall for him. Def disapointing, and he got hit up early. He will need a big bounce back that's for sure. I think alot of it is the high expectations any elite pitcher, or player in any sport,faces

2015-07-02 16:32

Thank you Matt. I feel better now.

2015-07-02 15:10

The change: his Pitches per inning ratio has dropped from 15.2 in 2009 to 14.5 in 2014. He's actually having a bit of an off year in 2015 overall, but that is largely due to getting absolutely shellacked twice at random.

2015-07-02 15:03

As for your question regarding pitch counts over time...Felix isn't losing 120 pitch games because he doesn't care to pitch deep into games and risk injury or because he's getting soft-shoed by the Mariners. He's losing 120+ pitch games because he's pitching more efficiently. His IP counts per season are steady and among the best in baseball.

2015-07-02 15:01

Neither, Tacoma. Felix was pulled from that game because he was visibly laboring late...throwing a TON of pitches and limping a bit on his bad ankle after having to field his position in the 6th. They yanked him because a laboring Felix who's struggling with his command can actually get really terrible really fast.

2015-07-02 14:48

I know I'm stomping on hallowed ground, but... is anyone else bothered by the last Felix start? Yeah, I know it was a no runs, 1 hit masterpiece in 100+ temperatures BUT.... leaving after 6 innings after throwing 96 pitches against a division rival in a game the Mariners really needed to win.
I realize the bullpen was fairly well rested, and Lloyd really mis-managed the bullpen to lose the game... BUT 96 pitches? And this highlights the fact that Felix has not thrown more than 120 in close to two years. Aren't aces / kings supposed to be horses that occasionally throw 130 pitches when it is needed?
Is Lloyd / Mariner's coaching treating Felix with kid gloves too much? Or has Felix decided that pitching another 7 to 10 years is more important than giving max effort this year?

2015-07-02 14:36

If he bombs like that Matt....in some extended trial....then I'm good with that.

2015-07-02 14:32

He'll at least get a September call-up. No reason not to.

2015-07-02 14:30

I am sure Guti gets at least 80 at bats before they cut ties with him... and based on the fact he can not play back to back days... that is easily well into August. I agree that Romero SHOULD get another significant look, but I doubt it happens until August... and possibly September.

2015-07-02 14:30

Most AAAA players get two shots at least. I'm sure Romero will too. And when he's finished hitting .198 with 5 HR and 100 K, hopefully we won't extend a third audition.

2015-07-02 14:00

Looks like the M's could get a young RHB who hit .352-.391-.599 at A+/AA and .321-.365-.559 at AAA. Well....I'm loading the dice. That's Stefen Romero, of course. And I dropped his first AAA year '13, which wasn't a disaster. In '13 Romero, in 411 Tacoma PA's hit .277-.331-.448 with 11 homers. Over 444 '14-'15 Tacoma PA's, he's hit .321-.365-.559 with 21 homers. Matt, I know you hate Romero based on the fact that he doesn't walk much and fizzled in #Seattle last year, but the guy has upped his game to the next level and can slug. If Guti doesn't hit, Romero should get a shot.

2015-07-02 13:20

The timing on this is weird just because it didn't make any sense to send him down lat time, but it is driven by this fact: Miller is hitting .143-.176-.153 vL this year, approx. .160-.215-.250 over the last two and .206-.260-.296 for his career. He's a hard hitting SS vs. RHP, but needs the vL help. Taylor isn't ripping up Tacoma right now (.701 over the last 28 days),but he's at .308-.370-.418 vL for the year, including his #Seattle stint. It doesn't make up a lot more flexible, but it helps us some.

2015-07-02 13:09

It had to be done. Taylor was hitting again in AAA, and we need someone who can actually play short up here to bench Miller against tough lefties.

2015-07-02 12:41

Oh no. They'll probably make Wille B the new manager, and all he'll want to do is talk about grit. jk. At least I won't have to listen any more to the incessant fanboy talk from the M's announcers and commentators.

I'm sure WIllie is a fine man personally. I'm just relieved to no longer be afflicted with his presence as a player taking the spot of someone who can contribute more.

I imagine there is a funereal atmosphere in the front office, where WIllie seemed to symbolize everything Fanboy Mariner-- overhyped and overrated.

2015-07-02 11:40

The end of Boom Boom. About...a year and a half too late

2015-07-02 11:33

Willie Bloomquist DFA'd and Chris Taylor brought up. Maybe some winning will break out.

2015-07-02 11:23

Take Luis Gohara for instance. He's now in #Everett kicking off his 3rd minor league season. It seems like he's been in the org forever, but he's only 18 years old. How he performs for the next 10 weeks or so in #Everett and then next year in full season ball is what will tell us if we actually have something of value.

2015-07-02 11:16

Vargas is a big, strong 16-year old. He's a $1.7 million lottery ticket. We'll see first if he can even play and progress in the minors. Probably, we won't even know if he's a prospect for at least two, if not three, years. It's a lottery ticket, a draw at the deck.

2015-07-02 11:05

Who gets booted really depends on how well Elias does today

2015-07-02 11:04

Another big athlete with unorthodox swing with contact issues. Chances high he moves to the OF, where he may not have enough hand-eye skills to succeed.

2015-07-02 11:03

Iwakuma: 1 R in 5.2 IP in AAA, with 6 punchies. Got a blister (says that happens every year when he starts throwing after a long hiatus) and expects to make his next start...soooooo....who do you send out of this rotation when Iwakuma arrives? I'm gonna be TICKED if they boot #Montgomery, the way he's pitching...but that is probably what they'll do, since he has options.

2015-07-02 11:00

Mariners sign Carlos Vargas (Dominican) to 1.7 M bonus. Thoughts?

2015-07-02 10:58

That would be very nice...but even if Bloomy doesn't retire, DFA'ing him can achieve the same result. But if you take Rollins off the DL, he has to be called up or sent back to his club that very moment. Who in the current bullpen leaves for Rollins? (I'd send out Beimel)

2015-07-02 10:27

Best case scenario? Bloomquist retires, Rollins onto the 40 man, Taylor in #Seattle.

2015-07-02 10:25

that would also be fine with me (Bloomquist DFA)

2015-07-02 10:23

@shannondrayer: Chris Taylor on his way up. Mariners could have another move Sat. as they must make a decision on Rollins by then.

2015-07-02 09:56

More likely WFB.

2015-07-02 09:47

Sounds like the club has come up with a miraculous, imaginary Ackley injury to get him off the roster and get Taylor up...I hope that is what happens here.

2015-07-02 09:24

I was driving in to work a little while ago and on the radio Salk mentioned something about Ackley being overweight and injured. Is that true? Maybe there's an injury, but he's never looked overweight to me.

2015-07-02 09:02

@ProspectInsider: Not hearing anything about a trade involving #Seattle. Taylor's call-up appears to be about an option, DFA or injury.

2015-07-02 08:24

Taylor apparently called up

2015-07-02 06:49

I noticed the Pizzano absence, too...GLS> He was removed mid-game a while back and hasn't been back. Drats. I want him in Tacoma. I did not watch Walker throw yesterday as I was listening to the game while tying flies....but I'm assuming he's still on that Buehrle-like rhythm where he gets a sign and throws. Little has been mentioned of that since the first game he did that....which was the game that began this streak.

2015-07-02 04:16

WOW...that...is some serious data-oriented managing. It explains why they yanked him after six today, as well. They must be watching the radar gun closely with him...looking for signs of the sort of fatigue that can lead to micro-tears.

2015-07-02 04:10

Lloyd came running out of the dugout with the trainer for apparently no reason to check Taijuan's #Health; even Taijuan was confused. Later, cameras showed that he scapula-shrugged twice on the mound, as if annoyed at a pain, and later later, Brooks showed it was three pitches into a little velo drop on the graph. (I don't support or not support him more or less but) Lloyd has a V-E-R-Y sharp in-game eye. Even sharper than Piniella's, looks like.

2015-07-02 04:05

Taijuan's command continues to spiral upward universes away from his first several starts. *Reminded* you even more today of the young Curt Schilling template, using the fastball alone to totally dominate. … also, his spikeball was the best it has ever been for him, absolutely the best ever, and yet he threw it only 2x per inning. ?!

2015-07-02 04:01

Quick reminder guys: no language at all, including *#@#$ marks. Thanks :- )

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