There were a couple of different options I could’ve gone with this, but there is nothing better than reaching your first MLB milestone, so I went with Hisashi Iwakuma‘s first batter of the season.
With the game already out of hand, having been that way since the second inning, Mariners manager Eric Wedge decided to finally give Iwukuma a chance to pitch here in game 15 against the Chicago White Sox. Wedge had later said that he wanted Iwukuma’s debut to be a fresh inning, so he wasn’t brought in under any pressure, and this was the perfect moment I believe.
There is never any pressure when you are already down by five runs late in a ball game. It’s just mop up work, and a get your pitches in type of situation. Regardless, Iwukuma shined in his MLB debut, that’s for sure. After his warm-up tosses, it was time for Iwukuma to finally go to work. His first major league batter he faced was Alex Rios, not the easiest out by any means. Eric Wedge decided to finally give Iwukuma a chance to pitch.
First pitch was a fast ball taken high, maybe his jitters were getting the best of him, or maybe he was trying to get Rios to pop up. Judging by what happened next, I think it was the latter.
A monumental pop-up. So his first major league pitch was a ball, so what. Iwukuma was back on the mound and ready for pitch number two. Though you can’t see the pitch from this video, there is still a really good zoom in on Iwukuma’s fingers on the ball before the pitch. Not something you get to see every day.
Anyways, pitch two, and another fast ball up. He gets Rios to pop-up about three feet in front of home plate. This ball was skied though, giving enough time for just about every player on the field to grab fly ball. Jesus Montero waved off both first and third basemen to make the play. A nice way to start a big league career, a two pitch pop-up right in front of home plate.
My guess is another outing like the one that Hector Noesi had on Friday night, and Hisashi Iwukuma will be in the starting rotation. He pitched extremely well in his debut, and yes long relief is an important part of the bullpen, but not nearly as important as a good starter, and this is why I think that by May, Iwukuma will be in the rotation.