Iwakuma has gone 1-0 with an 0.93 ERA in two Tacoma starts and also gave up just one run in 3 2/3 innings in an initial start with Class A Everett.
"He did OK. It was better than the last outing," manager Lloyd McClendon said of Iwakuma's start on Tuesday, when he allowed just one run with six strikeouts. "The velocity got better each outing. I know he touched 91 last night, and that's a good sign. He's moving in the right direction."
Iwakuma did suffer a blister on his throwing hand on Tuesday, but that's a common issue he regularly deals with because of the pressure he puts when he throws split-finger fastball. McClendon, though, will take that minor setback into account.
"That certainly will be part of the evaluation, and then we'll go from there," McClendon said. "I don't want anybody pitching around anything. We need him 100 percent, and hopefully he will be 100 percent."
The Mariners could potentially experiment with a six-man rotation if they can't identify an odd-man out before Iwakuma's return.
A blister forced
"It happened in the sixth inning. I threw a split and felt the blister pop, and then on the curveball where I struck [center fielder Alex Castellanos] out, I felt it kind of rip open," Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki, per MLB.com. "It's common for me."
Iwakuma allowed one run on five hits over 5 2/3 innings before exiting with the blister. He also struck out six and walked one.
"He was phenomenal," Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. "It's up to the big league club what they're going to do with him next. Whether his next start will be here or in Safeco, we don't know, but he was really good."
After the outing, he said he was not concerned with the blister. He is on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle.
"I'm able to make my adjustment with the two trainers they have up in Seattle. They know the situation as well, so I should be fine," Iwakuma said. "I feel comfortable, mentally and physically."
"He continues to improve and move forward," McClendon said. "His first two innings were kind of tough, a little erratic, and his mechanics were off. But he seemed to settle down and threw a little better in the fourth inning.
"He’s progressing. He’s healthy. He touched 91 mph a few times and was at 87-91, so that’s encouraging."
Iwakuma previously had a rehab start with Class A. The Mariners want Iwakuma to get up to 90-100 pitches before he is able to return to the rotation, so he will likley need at least another two rehab starts.
"I need to make some adjustments, but mentally I’m ready to go," Iwakuma told reporters, per The Seattle Times. "If they call me up I’ll be ready to play."
Iwakuma tossed 3 2/3 innings during a rehab assignment at Class A. Iwakuma is on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle. He will need at least three more rehab outings before he can return.
"I would doubt seriously that it would just be two rehab starts," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "When we leave spring training with any of our starting pitchers, we expect them to go six to seven innings, 90-100 pitches the first time out. He's not there yet. Two starts won't get him there."
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