Felix Hernandez casts a long shadow over opposing batters and his teammates. So it goes when you’re baseball royalty.
Two of King Felix’s Seattle Mariners rotation-mates, though, deserve a moment in the sun.
Entering play Tuesday, the 71-59 Mariners hold a half-game lead over the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card spot, and unheralded hurlers Chris Young and HisashiIwakuma have more than pitched in.
Iwakuma, 33, made the All-Star team in 2013 but began this season on the disabled list with a torn tendon in his middle finger.
He’s long since put the injury behind him and is in the midst of another stellar campaign. His 2.83 ERA and 0.98 WHIP would qualify for No. 1 status on most clubs.
In fact, as ESPN.com‘s Katie Sharp argues, the Japanese import is a defacto second ace:
It’s hard to imagine where the Mariners would be without their dynamic duo of Iwakuma and Hernandez at the top of the rotation. The playoffs would certainly be a pipe dream. But thanks to the combination of baseball’s most anonymous ace (Iwakuma) and most deserving ace (Hernandez), Seattle is now in prime position to give its fans something besides football to cheer about in October.
Here’s another way of looking at how quietly dominant Iwakuma has been: He and Hernandez are on pace to become just the third duo in the live-ball era to finish the season with sub-1.00 WHIPs, perMLB.com‘s Roger Schlueter.