Aug 16, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) warms up prior to the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Mariners' Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma dancing with history

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The Seattle Mariners are in the thick of it this season.  Currently they are holding onto the second wild card spot in the American League and only 6 games out of first place in an American League West race that will play out over the final month of the season.

They recently completed their first ever sweep of the Boston Red Sox, but that is not the only history that the Mariners are making this season.  The other history being is by the talented duo of Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma as the pair has been historically stingy at allowing base runners this season.  They have been, for lack of better words, figuratively and literally WHIP-ing opposing batters who face off against them at home in Seattle and on the road.

The history they are on pace to make is to finish the season with a combined sub-1.00 WHIP, which has only occurred twice since the start of the live-ball era in 1920.  In 1964, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers finished the year with a combined 0.950 WHIP, while the remainder of National League starting pitching finished with a combined 1.251 WHIP for the year.

Thirty-eight years later in 2002, Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe become the second duo to complete this feat for the Boston Red Sox.  That season, Lowe and Martinez finished with a combined 0.950 WHIP, while the rest of the American League finished with a combined 1.306 WHIP.  Now Hernandez and Iwakuma look to not only add their names to this list, but are also on pace to finish with numbers that are more reminiscent of 1914 than 2014.

At this point in the season and with a month remaining, Felix Hernandez looks like he’s putting the final touches on another Cy Young season for Seattle.  He is 13-4 on the season, has an ERA of 2.07, an K/9 rate of 9.6, BB/9 rate of 1.6, and last, but not least, a WHIP of 0.885.  

Aug 13, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (18) throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at Safeco Field. (Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

Hisashi Iwakuma (Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

Opposite of Hernandez, is fellow right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who has also been quietly making his own Cy Young case.  He is 12-6 on the season with an ERA of 2.83, a K/9 rate of 7.3, a BB/9 rate of  0.8, and finally a WHIP of 0.946.  Iwakuma’s BB/9 rate this season, has been on par with Christy Mathewson‘s in 1913 and 1914 and oddly enough Carlos Silva‘s in 2005.  He also boasts the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in Major League Baseball, which is at a solid 10.00. This is in thanks in part to lights out pitching including his last start where he went 8 innings for 11 k’s and no walks.  Becoming the seventh Mariners’ pitcher in franchise history to complete this feat.

Combined they have a WHIP of 0.906, while the remainder of the American League has a combined WHIP of 1.306.  The combined number of 0.906 by itself is astonishing, as not only are they eclipsing the numbers set by the previous two tandems, but are now entering dead-ball era numbers for pitching duos with sub-1.00 WHIP’s.  Joining duos such as Walter Johnson and Bill Burns in 1908 for the Washington Senators, and the 1909 Chicago Cubs pairing of Mordecai Brown and Orval Overall.  They are setting the pace for a statistical dream season in what has already been a magically season for Seattle baseball in general.  The duo of Hernandez and Iwakuma are pitching towards October and towards the pages of history.

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