Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Hisashi Iwakuma

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Hisashi Iwakuma. Do ya know who he is? Perhaps to the seasoned veterans out there, the answer is yes. But for many fantasy baseball early-birds the answer is probably no.

An intriguing young pitcher out of Japan, Hisashi Iwakuma wound up being an average fantasy consideration in 2012, but that could all change this season.

Hisashi Iwakuma boasts a five-pitch repertoire that includes three fastballs (a four-seam, a two seam sinker and a wonderful split-finger), a sinkerball and a curveball that saw little usage in 2012.

Iwakuma primarily utilized his fastball collection to yield strikes. Over the course of 125+ innings last year, Iwakuma struck out 101 batters (good for a 7.3 K/9) which mainly came from that split-finger beaut he throws.

Iwakuma did struggle away from his own digs however.

A far better pitcher at home, Hisashi Iwakuma finished with a 4.20 road ERA. While he gave up less hits and walks on the road, his strikeout totals also were cut nearly in half.

Iwakuma’s end line was a 9-5 record with a 3.16 ERA and 101/43 K/BB ratio.

Fantasy Spin: I think what we’re going to see from this kid is an uptick in his performance this season, but a lot of what he offers will also rely on his surrounding cast which right now isn’t that good on paper.

Iwakuma possesses the talent to be something special in the majors as well as fantasy baseball for sure, but many owners will probably shy away from him at draft time due to his inconsistency—an aspect that almost always shrouds a first-year pitcher.

Don’t be that guy. Iwakuma struggled on the road yes, but also pulled things together towards the end.  And considering he’s being pegged as a late-round flyer (196.28 ADP currently) you could do FAR worse. He boasts four quality pitches with one average out pitch, plays in the most pitcher-friendly park baseball has to offer and has nowhere to go but up.

Pull your britches up and grab the guy when he becomes available. You’ll thank me later for the advice.

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