Hisashi Iwakuma - A Whole New (Comfort) Level

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Hisahi Iwakuma feels very comfortable at home. I read this on CBS where I own Iwakuma in my dynasty league: "I feel very comfortable here [at SAFECO] and very used to the mound here,"Iwakuma told the Seattle Times. "That helps me out to have that advantage." Well I feel very comfortable having him - especially after his last few starts where he’s started approaching that GB/FB ratio I pointed out before the season here...

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Hisahi Iwakuma feels very comfortable at home. I read this on CBS where I own Iwakuma in my dynasty league: "I feel very comfortable here [at SAFECO] and very used to the mound here,"Iwakuma told the Seattle Times. "That helps me out to have that advantage." Well I feel very comfortable having him - especially after his last few starts where he’s started approaching that GB/FB ratio I pointed out before the season here.

To date, he only has a 1.24 GB/FB ratio (compared to 1.91 last year), but check out his last 5 games – 3 of which were at home:

Game Log:

Date

Opp

W

IP

H

ER

HR

BB

SO

BABIP

LOB%

GB%

HR/FB

ERA

xFIP

6/10/2013

HOU

1

7

4

0

0

1

8

0.24

80.00%

62.50%

0.00%

0

2

6/5/2013

CHW

0

8

3

0

0

0

5

0.15

100.00%

60.00%

0.00%

0

2.9

5/31/2013

@MIN

1

7

7

0

0

2

5

0.29

100.00%

52.20%

0.00%

0

3.5

5/26/2013

TEX

0

8

5

2

1

0

8

0.22

83.30%

36.80%

9.10%

2.3

3

5/20/2013

@CLE

0

6

7

5

2

3

6

0.31

69.40%

47.10%

40.00%

7.5

3.8

(All logs and stats courtesy of FanGraphs)

I spoke about Iwakuma with @Andrew_Ball and @FantasyNinja8 on @Faketeams’s podcast this week. I mentioned I would like to see his GB/FB ratio approach elite levels again, but Zack Smith smartly said it shouldn’t much matter in Safeco. Not only that, but check out his Balls in Play (BIP) data from last year and this year:

BIP Data

Season

GB/FB

GB%

FB%

LD%

IFFB%

HR/FB

LOB%

BABIP

xBABIP

2012

1.91

52.20%

27.30%

20.50%

6.00%

17.00%

81.90%

0.282

0.307

2013

1.24

47.40%

38.20%

14.50%

9.50%

10.50%

87.70%

0.222

0.271

While his GB% dropped about 5% and his FB% jumped up about 11%, his LD% also dropped 6% positively affecting his Batting Average on Balls in Play. Excellent (Top 5) command and some good luck in the HR/FB ratio and LOB% department gives us an elite fantasy option. Here’s is command rates to date:

Command

Season

K%

BB%

K/BB

K/9

BB/9

2012

19.50%

8.30%

2.35

7.25

3.09

2013

24.50%

3.90%

6.21

8.21

1.32

Recommendation:

Whichever expected ERA you want to focus on, he should be a 3.33 guy or better moving forward:

Season

xFIP

SIERA

2012

3.76

3.78

2013

3.13

3.04

Any way you look at it, he’s a stud. Here are his contact rates:

Contact

Season

Swing%

O-Swing%

Z-Swing%

Contact%

Zone%

O-Contact%

Z-Contact%

F-Strike%

SwStr%

2012

48.60%

33.30%

66.20%

79.90%

46.50%

64.80%

88.70%

59.90%

9.50%

2013

49.90%

36.70%

64.00%

76.70%

48.40%

60.60%

86.60%

65.90%

11.40%

From left to right – he’s getting hitters to swing outside the zone more, inside the zone less, a 3% overall contact drop but hitting the zone more; batters are making less contact outside the zone and in, he’s throwing 6% more first pitch strikes, and validating the contact rate is the increase in swing and misses (15th best contact rate and 9th best swing and miss rate; 3rd best O-swing; 18th best Zone% and 16th best F-strike%).

Hisashi, on behalf of all of your fantasy owners, thank you. You could and should realistically be 11-1 right now. May your offense pick it up for you at least a little more than the Mets should pick it up for Harvey.

Daniel Schwartz owns and contributes for Rotobanter.com – fantasy baseball site dedicated to visitor requests and live discussion. You can follow him on twitter @Rotobanter.

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