Darvish's curveball is almost unhittable

May, 11, 2012
5/11/12
3:16
PM ET

Kevin Jairaj/US PresswireRookie Yu Darvish and the Rangers will get their first look at Albert Pujols in an Angels uniform.
The American League West was supposed to be a two-team race between the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels.

However, not only are the Angels in last place in the West, but they are seven games behind the first-place Rangers.

The series begins Friday with C.J. Wilson making his return to Texas after signing the largest free agent contract by a starting pitcher in the offseason. And a big matchup will be how Wilson handles the red-hot Josh Hamilton, who has hit six home runs in his last four games.

Wilson hasn’t been one of the American League’s elite pitchers against left-handed hitters, but he’s been better than most. Lefties are hitting .174 and slugging .239 against Wilson. He’s also struck out 36 percent of the left-handed hitters he’s faced (18-50) and allowed only one home run.

Hamilton is hitting .381 against left-handed pitching with four home runs.

Opposing Wilson will be Yu Darvish, who signed the second-largest contract by a starting pitcher in the offseason.

Darvish has many pitches, including two different curveballs. Almost 15 percent of Darvish’s pitches this season (98 of 661) have been curveballs, and opponents are hitting just .059 against it. That’s the lowest batting average this season against a pitcher who has thrown at least 75 curveballs.

Darvish has been tough on right-handed hitters this season (.196 BA, 9-46), which does not bode well for the struggling Albert Pujols.

Based on the numbers, Pujols can expect to see a heavy diet of off-speed pitches from Darvish. Pujols is hitting .239 against fastballs and .125 against off-speed pitches (changeups, curves, sliders).

As good as Darvish is against righties, left-handed bats have teed off on his fastball. Left-handed batters are hitting .457 against his heater, another reason why the Angels might see a lot of off-speed pitches from Darvish.

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