Iwakuma goes on 15-day DL with strained lat

IwakumaMariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, one of the top starters in the American League the past three seasons, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday with a strained lat muscle behind his right shoulder.

Left-handed reliever Lucas Luetge was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to temporarily fill Iwakuma’s spot on the 25-man roster.

Iwakuma, 33, had gone 0-1 with a 6.61 ERA in his first three starts and was removed after just 71 pitches in his last outing, though he said he felt fine physically afterward even though his velocity has been down this year. He allowed four runs and five hits — including a pair of solo home runs — in 5 1/3 innings in that no-decision to the Astros on Monday and wasn’t sharp in his first two starts against the Angels and Dodgers either.

Iwakuma had been scheduled to make his next start in Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Twins, but the decision to place him on the DL came after he played catch prior to Friday’s game at Safeco Field. He was to undergo an MRI test on Friday night to further evaluate the injury. The move is retroactive to April 21, so he’ll be eligible to return on May 6.

No announcement has been made on who will make Sunday’s start, though left-hander Roenis Elias would be the logical choice to be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.

Iwakuma was 15-9 with a 3.52 ERA in 28 starts last season and 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA in 33 starts in 2013, when he was named to the American League All-Star team. After moving into the Mariners rotation on July 2, 2012, Iwakuma had the ninth-lowest ERA in the Majors at 2.97 from that point to the end of last season.

Over the last two seasons, Iwakuma’s WHIP of 1.026 was the fifth lowest in the Majors among qualified starters, but that number was 1.408 in his first three games this year and he’d allowed five home runs in 16 1/3 innings.

Elias went 10-12 with a 3.85 ERA in 29 starts for Seattle as a rookie last season, but didn’t make the rotation this spring and started the season in Tacoma. He’s 2-0 with an 8.04 ERA in three starts for the Rainiers. His last start came on Monday, so he’d be on line to start Sunday if that’s the direction the Mariners choose.

Luetge presumably will be used to bolster the bullpen on a short-term basis until Iwakuma’s starting spot is filled. He’s posted a 3.24 ERA in 8 1/3 innings over five appearances for Tacoma.

1 Comment

The Mariners are going to need Iwakuma to get healthy if they are going to make a serious push for the playoffs.

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