Felix thrilled to witness Iwakuma's ascent

Felix thrilled to witness Iwakuma's ascent

NEW YORK -- Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma have been one of the best one-two pitching tandems in baseball so far this season, and Hernandez, the Mariners' ace, is thrilled to have company atop the rotation.

Heading into Tuesday's series opener against the Yankees, started by Seattle's ace, Hernandez (1.53) and Iwakuma (1.74) ranked first and third, respectively, in the American League in ERA and had combined to allow just four runs in their last three starts.

Iwakuma will try to improve to 5-1 on Wednesday against the Yankees' Phil Hughes. Hernandez has been among the biggest fans of his Japanese teammate's success.

"Oh man, that's unbelievable," Hernandez said. "He's doing great, and I'm happy for him. I know he's got the talent. He's dealing. His stuff is pretty good. You see it on TV, and his fastball is actually going up. It's crazy. I like it."

Iwakuma has said he watches and learns from Hernandez. Does that work in reverse as well? Can Hernandez pick things up from how Iwakuma pitches to hitters?

"We have kind of the same stuff," Hernandez said. "His split is kind of like my changeup, and his fastball is kind of like my sinker. So, I don't know. Maybe yes, maybe no."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.