Yu Darvish's pitch counts in Japan

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
6:26
PM ET
The winner of the Yu Darvish posting bid may be announced later tonight. While there's no denying his talent, one thing to consider is his long-term durability after a lot of high-pitch games in Japan.

Here are his pitch counts from 2011.

He threw 120 pitches in 15 of his 28 regular-season starts. In the majors, Justin Verlander led with 10 120-pitch games, followed by Jered Weaver with seven and Cliff Lee with six. Darvish also had seven games with 130-plus pitches, which is an even bigger difference than over here, where there were only four 130-pitch starts all season (one each from Verlander, Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter). The last MLB pitcher with at least seven 130-pitch starts was Randy Johnson in 1999.

And here are Darvish's pitch counts from 2010. He had 11 starts of 130-plus pitches, including nine of 140-plus.

Now, there are a couple caveats here. Darvish threw 3,396 pitches in 2011, which would rank 22nd in the majors. You'll notice that he also had more rest between starts -- he spent 2010 and most of 2011 basically pitching once per week, so he was often getting six or seven days off between starts.

There's no answer to what all this means. Studies have shown that high-pitch games can be more dangerous than a cumulative run of 120-pitch games, for example. However, those studies were done with MLB pitchers, who usually returned on four days' rest. There's a lot we don't know about keeping pitchers healthy and I suspect nobody has any idea whether Darvish is a good bet to remain injury-free if he comes over here.

(Thanks to Jim Caple for passing the links along.)

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger

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