With breakout '13, Iwakuma a finalist for AL Cy Young
Righty posts league's third-best ERA to earn consideration with Darvish, Scherzer
SEATTLE -- A breakout season for Hisashi Iwakuma did not go unnoticed nationally as the Mariners right-hander was named Tuesday as one of three finalists for the 2013 American League Cy Young Award by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Iwakuma is competing with fellow Japanese standout Yu Darvish of the Rangers and Tigers stalwart Max Scherzer for the AL's top pitching honor, which will be awarded on Nov. 13 in a 3 p.m. PT show on MLB Network.
Finalists for all of the BBWAA Awards -- Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young and MVP honors -- were announced Tuesday. Iwakuma is the lone nominee from the Mariners as he attempts to become the third Seattle pitcher to win a Cy Young Award, joining Randy Johnson (1995) and Felix Hernandez (2010).
Iwakuma, 32, established himself as one of the AL's elite pitchers in his first full season as a starter in the Majors as he went 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA. Iwakuma finished second in the AL in WHIP (a club record 1.006); third in ERA, innings (219 2/3) and opponent's batting average (.220); fourth in strikeouts-to-walk ratio (4.40) and quality starts (23); fifth in opponent's OPS (.630) and 12th in strikeouts (185).
Iwakuma's win total could have been higher, but he took five no-decisions in games in which he pitched at least six innings without allowing an earned run. He had a 2.86 ERA in 13 no-decisions out of his 33 starts.
Iwakuma has some tough competition from Scherzer, however, as the Tigers right-hander finished 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 32 starts. Scherzer, 29, led the AL in wins and WHIP (0.970), was second in strikeouts (240) and opponent's batting average (.198), and fifth in ERA and innings (214 2/3).
Darvish, who is also in his second season in the Majors since coming over from Japan, finished 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA in 32 starts for the Rangers. Darvish, 27, led the AL in strikeouts (277) and opponent's batting average (.194), and was fourth in ERA and WHIP (1.073).
Iwakuma is a relative newcomer on the Major League scene after pitching long relief for the first half of 2012 before moving into the Mariners' rotation. But he was one of Japan's premier pitchers before coming to Seattle and was the Pacific League's MVP as well as the Eiji Sawamura Award winner -- the equivalent of the Cy Young Award -- when he went 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA in 28 starts for Rakuten in '08.