Hisashi Iwakuma's 2017 season was completely derailed by shoulder issues, and he's not expected to be ready until May or June after having the shoulder cleaned up in late September. The shoulder was found to have some structural damage, which is especially troubling for a player approaching his 37th birthday. Iwakuma's peripherals had been in steady decline in recent seasons, with his once-elite walk rate more than tripling since 2014 (from 1.1 BB/9 to 3.5). Meanwhile, his strikeout rate has fallen from an already-modest level, down to just 4.7 K/9 in the abbreviated sample last season, and his home-run rate has gradually ticked up (to 2.03 HR/9). Prime Iwakuma wouldn't have been worth stashing for two months, and this lesser version certainly isn't, so he should be left for the waiver wire in nearly all leagues to begin the season. He agreed to return to the Mariners on a minor-league deal after the team declined his $10 million option.
Iwakuma (shoulder) threw 10 pitches off a mound Monday, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. Initial reports are good, as the embattled right-hander commented that it was as good as his arm felt since last spring. Iwakuma's next step is to throw a complete bullpen session on Sunday, after his status should become clearer. He still appears to be on track for a return in late May or early June.
The Mariners hope Iwakuma (shoulder) will be available to pitch by late May or early June, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. Since Iwakuma is attending spring training on a minor-league deal, the Mariners can oversee his recovery from right shoulder surgery over the next couple months without having to add him to the 40-man roster and subsequently stashing him on the disabled list. Iwakuma remains limited to throwing off flat ground but believes he'll be able to throw off a mound before camp concludes.
Iwakuma (shoulder) could throw his first bullpen as soon as next week, Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Seattle reports. The Japanese right-hander has quietly progressed nicely in his throwing program this spring. Iwakuma still isn't expected to return until sometime in mid-May, but it's certainly encouraging to hear that his rehab program is going off without a hitch.
Iwakuma (shoulder) has been cleared to resume throwing, Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times reports. Iwakuma continues to slowly work his way back from September shoulder surgery, and while this is a big step in his rehab, he's still not expected to be ready to pitch until May or early June. His status should continue to be updated as he progresses in his rehab; the hope is that Iwakuma will be able to return for the second half of 2018.
Iwakuma (shoulder) has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Mariners that includes an invitation to spring training. It turns out Iwakuma will return to Seattle despite the team declining his $10 million club option at the end of the season. The 36-year-old made just six starts last year -- going 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA and 16:12 K:BB across 31 innings -- before undergoing arthroscopic surgery near the end of September to clean up some structural damage in his throwing arm. It's still unclear if Iwakuma will be ready for the start of the season, as he isn't expected to resume throwing until the end of February, barring any setbacks. The right-hander went 16-12 with a 4.12 ERA and 147:46 K:BB in 33 starts (199 innings) in 2016.