Hisashi Iwakuma injury: Mariners pitcher to return Saturday

Jared Wickerham

The Mariners' rotation will get an added boost when right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma makes his season debut on Saturday.

Seattle Mariners' right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma will make his season debut Saturday against the Houston Astrostweets Greg Johns of MLB.com. The 33-year-old has yet to pitch for the Mariners this season due to a finger strain sustained in February. He was originally expected to be out 4-6 weeks, but has missed roughly 10.

Iwakuma threw 76 pitches in his first and only rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma on Sunday. He struck out two batters and allowed two earned runs in four innings against the Las Vegas 51s.

Iwakuma was among baseball's best pitchers last season, as he went 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA, 140 ERA+, and 7.0 WAR in 219.2 innings. He posted an outstanding strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.40, striking out 185 while walking just 42. His performance led to a third place finish in AL Cy Young voting and an appearance in his first All-Star game.

Injuries to starters Taijuan Walker and Iwakuma put the Mariners in a hole to start the season, and since then, James Paxton has also landed on the DL. Still, the Mariners rotation has been surprisingly solid, currently boasting a 3.82 rotation ERA that ranks 13th in baseball, though their FIP is significantly worse at 4.28 (25th).

The Mariners are currently 11-14, and sit 5.5 games behind the division-leading Athletics in the AL West.

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