Seattle Mariners: Another setback for Hisashi Iwakuma

The Seattle Mariners are gradually getting healthier, but one player who won’t be coming back any time soon, is pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma.

The Seattle Mariners are on a roll at the moment, with Thursday’s 9-6 victory over the Detroit Tigers representing their fifth win in a row. In the process, they went above .500 for the first time all season and are now just one game back of a Wild Card spot.

However, not everyone within the organization is able to enjoy the current run of success. In particular, Hisasha Iwakuma, who has been on the disabled list since early May, as a result of inflammation in his right shoulder.

At the time of going to the DL, Iwakuma was expected to miss between four and six weeks. In that respect, he was right on track and expected to return to the Mariners’ rotation on Saturday, versus the Houston Astros.

However, this move was postponed, after the 2013 All-Star’s outing on Monday with Triple-A Tacoma. He endured a disastrous game, only lasting two innings after allowing four runs.

Unfortunately for Iwakuma — and the Mariners — this postponement could be set to last quite a while. General manager Jerry Dipoto provided an update on Thursday, during his weekly appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle‘s “Danny, Dave and Moore” show:

“He’s going to pitch again at some point in 2017, just not entirely certain when it will be”, said Dipoto. “More so than the poor outing, I think it’s we want to make sure that Kuma is healthy before he takes the mound. Right now he’s obviously working his way back from the shoulder issues that he’s experienced and neither the club nor Hisashi feels great about where he is right now.”

This is understandably bad news, especially with the Mariners’ ideal starting rotation still undermanned. While Felix Hernandez is set to return on Friday, the M’s are also still without Drew Smyly, who suffered an injury before the regular season even started.

Of course, it would be easy to point at the Mariners’ recent run of success and say they will be just fine without Iwakuma and Smyly. However, the team would still rather have both players back, as they look to end the league’s longest current postseason drought.

In terms of Iwakuma specifically, the Mariners don’t have a clear timetable yet for when he will return. However, as reported by 710 ESPN Seattle‘s Brent Stecker, Manager Scott Servais will assess the situation and determine the pitcher’s next rehab start, after a bullpen session.

At this point, are you still concerned — assuming you ever were — about Iwakuma’s continued absence? Or do you have enough confidence in the Mariners to maintain their postseason challenge, without the pitcher’s services? Share your thoughts in the comments section.