This Saturday is Hisashi Iwakuma Bear Hat Night, where the first 20-some-odd thousand people will get a blue bear hat (that will inevitably be too small for my bulbous head, but that’s neither here nor there). So, GET YOUR BEAR HAT WHILE YOU CAN, because Hisashi Iwakuma is pitching his way off of this team and probably out of Major League Baseball altogether.
Yesterday, Lloyd McClendon was asked about James Paxton’s mechanics and had a little mini-snap at the reporters. Not on the level of Bryan Price’s meltdown, but you get the impression that he’s almost there. LMC doesn’t want to hear about mechanics and he doesn’t want to talk about the underperforming Paxton. That’s all well and good, but it’ll be interesting to see what he ends up saying about Iwakuma after he was pulled in the middle of the 6th inning last night, having thrown only 71 pitches while giving up 4 runs and overall not looking very sharp.
As I’ve been lamenting for the last couple weeks, this is a trend with Iwakuma dating back to the end of last year. To my eyes? He looks done. He’s nobody’s number 2 starting pitcher anymore; he might be a number 5 on a crappy team, but with the way he’s giving up ding-dongers (5 in 3 starts so far), I don’t know how you can count on the guy anymore.
Maybe it’s just one of those months. For whatever reason, players will have a bad month, and then when the calendar flips to the next one, they end up figuring it out and putting it all together. For all of our sakes, let’s hope Iwakuma is his old, talented self starting in the month of May. But, I dunno. His ability to hit spots has gone away. He’s grooving easy-to-hammer fastballs right down the middle of the plate. And for the most part, teams have figured out anything that looks like it’s coming to the bottom of the strike zone is probably a splitter that will end up in the dirt (and thus have stopped flailing away at it like they used to). What that all adds up to is Iwakuma pitching up in the zone to avoid walks, and in the process getting his shit knocked the fuck out.
On the plus side, Iwakuma has only one more start left in the month of April. So, if it is one of those one-month flukes, then come May 1st, we should see a brand new pitcher. If not, then I don’t know what to tell you. This is getting uglier by the day, with no end in sight.