Is this the Yu Darvish we'll see all year?
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.
Abelimages/Getty ImagesYu Darvish has pitched 15 1/3 innings over his last two starts, striking out 19 while allowing just four walks.
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.
|Ron Washington on Yu Darvish, Craig Gentry and the Rangers' 4-1 win in Toronto. |
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?
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Play Podcast Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus joins Galloway & Company to discuss having Scott Boras as his agent, his new contract and having Jurickson Profar in the lineup.
Play Podcast Rangers manager Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss Yu Darvish's pitch count and how he spends time in the clubhouse during weather delays.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway & Company for his weekly visit to discuss the latest Rangers news.
Play Podcast Reid Ryan joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his new position with the Houston Astros and whether he could see his dad, Nolan, joining him there in the future.
Play Podcast ESPN MLB Insider Jayson Stark joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss if the Rangers are the best team in baseball, what makes them so good and if he thinks the team will trade Jurickson Profar.
Play Podcast Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Ron Washington's decision to send Yu Darvish to the mound for the eighth inning Thursday night and how he would handle a situation like that if he were still a GM.
Play Podcast Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley and Glenn "Stretch" Smith discuss the latest Rangers news, including the Yu Darvish-Justin Verlander matchup.
Play Podcast Nelson Cruz joins Galloway & Company to discuss the Rangers' series in Oakland, his ups and downs at the plate and if the PED talks before the season were a distraction.