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AL West Watch: Iwakuma Nearing Return

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AL West Watch: Iwakuma Nearing Return

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PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 05: Pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma #18 of the Seattle Mariners sits in the dugout before the spring training game against the Colorado Rockies at Peoria Stadium on March 5, 2014 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The guy who finished third behind Max Scherzer and Yu Darvish in the 2013 AL Cy Young voting hasn't thrown a pitch in the big leagues this year. But that's about to change.

The Mariners will start Hisashi Iwakuma on Saturday in Houston and give them the "2" in their formidable 1-2 punch with Felix Hernandez. The Rangers have had perhaps the worst injury situation in their starting rotation in all of baseball, but the Mariners' situation hasn't been much different.

Iwakuma was 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA last season before being shelved in spring training with a strained ligament in his middle finger. As the Mariners still await the debuts of young phenom pitchers Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, the return of Iwakuma will give the Mariners' makeshift rotation a big boost. When those two finally get going, look out.

The Mariners are a scary team with their retooled lineup featuring Robinson Cano and Corey Hart, and that starting rotation, when fully healthy, could be one of the game's best.

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