In what may have been his last game for the Mariners this season, Hisashi Iwakuma had a poor outing in an 8-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It’s during the tedious and overwrought week to 10 days before the non-waiver trade deadline where exaggeration and overstatement can be prevalent.
Take for example the trade prospects of Hisashi Iwakuma with July 31 nearing.
On Tuesday night at Safeco Field, Iwakuma had a clunker of an outing in the Mariners’ 8-4 loss to the Diamondbacks. Seattle fell to 46-55 on the season.
With almost a dozen scouts from a variety of teams watching, Iwakuma lasted just 52/3 innings, giving up six runs on 10 hits with a walk, five strikeouts and a home run. He fell to 2-2 on the season.
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“The command was not where it needed to be,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I thought his velocity was good, but he left a lot of pitches over the middle of the plate. Just not very good command, and it was right from the start.”
The easy reaction would be that Iwakuma destroyed any of the rumored interest in acquiring him and torched his potential trade value with the bad outing. But smart decisions on trades aren’t based on one outing, good or bad. Iwakuma was still healthy and his fastball was touching 91 mph.
So while the outing wasn’t good, it doesn’t override the previous solid outings he’s had since returning from the All-Star break. He’s got a 1.74 ERA over his last three starts with 18 strikeouts in 202/3 innings pitched.
“I felt good overall,” Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “All my pitches were working, but it was just commanding them. A few of my pitches I left up, and they took advantage of them.”
A trade for a veteran isn’t so much about what he’s done recently, but the larger sample of past seasons and current health. And with Iwakuma, the value is predicated on health. If he’s healthy, he’s shown he can pitch.
There have been few hints from the Mariners that they want to trade the soon-to-be free-agent pitcher. But of the players who will be free agents next season, including Austin Jackson, Mark Lowe, Joe Beimel, J.A. Happ and Fernando Rodney — Iwakuma holds the most value.
“Like I said in Detroit, I try not to think about it, I try not to worry about it and take care of what’s ahead of me right now, which was today and today I wasn’t able to pitch my game,” Iwakuma said. “I have to bounce back and pitch a good game on Sunday.”
Iwakuma’s next start is scheduled for Sunday in Minnesota, two days after the deadline. So this could have been Iwakuma’s last start with Seattle this season.
However, the Mariners could definitely look at bringing back Iwakuma, who is fond of the organization, for a one-year, incentive-laden extension with an option for a second year to provide depth to the rotation in 2016.
Based on some of the recent trades, the return for Iwakuma wouldn’t garner much beyond prospects. But those are something the Mariners’ farm system could use.
Iwakuma worked only one inning without a runner on base, the fourth. Arizona’s David Peralta got him twice for run-scoring hits with two outs — an RBI single in the first inning and an RBI double in the third inning
Seattle cut the lead in half against rookie starter Zack Godley in the bottom of the third. Catcher Mike Zunino extended his hitting streak to eight games, jumping on the first pitch of the third inning from Godley for a solo homer, his 10th of the season.
But Iwakuma couldn’t keep the game close. He served up a two-out solo homer to Ender Inciarte in the fifth, then never made it out of the sixth. He loaded the bases on two singles, a strikeout and another single and then surrendered a two-run single to Chris Owings to make it 5-1. A strikeout of Oscar Hernandez got him two outs in the inning. Nick Ahmed doubled into left-center to score another run and make it 6-1, ending Iwakuma’s day. Reliever David Rollins came in to get the final out.
The Mariners cut the lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the inning. Nelson Cruz crushed a solo homer to deep left-center for his 26th of the season. Brad Miller later doubled home Seth Smith to trim the lead to three runs.
Typical of this season, the Mariners’ bullpen let the three-run lead grow. Arizona picked up two in the eighth on a sac fly and an RBI single from Owings off of Joe Beimel, with both runs being charged to Rollins.
Miller drove in his second run of the game with an RBI single to right to make it 8-4, but it was far too late for any sort of comeback.