The Seattle Mariners will need some serious good work from their starting rotation if they have any hopes of staying relevant in the difficult American League West in 2014.
Hisashi Iwakuma, who has been working his way back from a sprained middle finger, has been fully cleared to return to action. From Shannon Drayer of ESPN 710:
Iwakuma was fully cleared, given a clean bill of health today. No restrictions going forward. Full go on throwing program.
— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) March 28, 2014
The Mariners’ initial hopes had been that Iwakuma would be available to return to the rotation shortly after the start of the regular season. This should still have him on track for a return sometime in April, as he will now have to resume a throwing program and build up his arm strength for the rigors of the regular season.
While he might not be a terribly well known pitcher, Iwakuma was silly-good in 2013. In 33 starts he went 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA and a 7.6 K/9. Relatively new to the Major Leagues but a veteran pitcher, Iwakuma, along with Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker, will be the key players as the Mariners try to stay afloat in 2014.