Is this the Yu Darvish we'll see all year?

April, 30, 2012
4/30/12
9:47
PM CT


The Yu Darvish that dominated Japan for years and impressed the Texas Rangers enough to invest $51.7 million in a posting bid and another $56 million guaranteed for six years is the guy who has shut down the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays the past two starts.

[+] EnlargeYu Darvish
Abelimages/Getty ImagesYu Darvish has pitched 15 1/3 innings over his last two starts, striking out 19 while allowing just four walks.
Sure, we saw flashes of it in spring training and in his first three starts, but scouts and team officials expected Darvish would find a way to put it all together consistently. It appears he has figured that out.

He's getting ahead of hitters -- he threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 27 batters he faced. He's mixing up pitches and speeds and his breaking stuff has incredible movement. He made many of the Blue Jays hitters look silly on sliders (Nolan Ryan says it's Darvish's best pitch), cutters and curveballs Monday, going seven innings and allowing one run on four hits with nine strikeouts and two walks.

In his past two outings, Darvish pitched deep into the game (15 1/3 innings total) and struck out 19 with just four walks. He has done that and still managed to stay efficient. That's the guy the Rangers saw in Japan. He made one mistake Monday, hanging a slider to Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto's top hitter right now. That accounted for the lone run.

PODCAST
Ron Washington on Yu Darvish, Craig Gentry and the Rangers' 4-1 win in Toronto.

Listen Listen
Consider that after Darvish allowed five runs in the first two innings of his big league career, he has given up just three earned runs in the 31 innings after that for a 0.87 ERA. Wow.

Like any pitcher, Darvish will have some struggles here and there. But he had a long track record in Japan and looks a lot like that guy right now in the big leagues. There's no reason that can't continue. If you ask me, his best attribute is that he doesn't get rattled. He might walk a batter or hit somebody and get himself into trouble (like he did early Monday), but he calmly goes about his business. Darvish has shown a penchant for getting out of jams, especially in his last two starts.

Darvish is 4-0 through April. With the Rangers' offense behind him, there's no reason to think Darvish can't push toward 16 wins or better. And he has got to be one of the favorites for AL Rookie of the Year now, too.

How many games do you think Darvish wins? Is the Darvish we've seen the past two games the one that we'll see for most of the season?
Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Jon Daniels

Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.

Galloway & Company: Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Jim Bowden

ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Chuck Cooperstein

Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.

Galloway & Company: Elvis Andrus

Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.

Galloway & Company: Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Ron Washington

Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Fire Wash?

Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Martin Perez
WINS ERA SO IP
3 1.86 20 29
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Rios .321
HRS. Choo 2
RBIK. Kouzmanoff 10
RE. Andrus 14
OPSS. Choo .932
ERAY. Darvish 1.61
SOY. Darvish 29