Yu Darvish Concerns and the Power of the Texas Rangers 8th Inning

By Peter Ellwood

This was written after the Texas Rangers won their seventh game in a row by beating the Detroit Tigers 10-3, improving the Rangers already MLB-best record to 11-2. You can read other recaps about what happened in the game elsewhere, and if you’re reading this, you probably already have. Good for you, and good for them. I mean that, really. I’m going to focus on two things, rather than on the nuts and bolts of what happened in tonight’s (or by the time you probably read this, last night’s) game.

1. Yu Darvish

Darvish cost more money to the Rangers than any other player on the team, currently. Considering he is a rookie this year, there are understandably high expectations placed on him. In a weird way, thus far Darvish has been pretty terrible yet it still feels like he has met those expectations. And I don’t think that is just because he has great hair.

After three starts, Darvish has pitched 17.2 innings and has a 3.57 ERA. Those are good numbers, especially for a MLB rookie. The bad numbers are that Darvish has a 1.92 WHIP, has thrown 333 pitches (only 57% of which were strikes), is issuing 6.6 BB/9, and only has a 1.1 K/BB rate. Those are some really bad peripheral statistics for the overall result Darvish is generating. His stuff is fun to watch, and he is seemingly improving with each start, but if he doesn’t improve the wildness it will eventually catch up to him. Those good results he is generating is a win for the team in each of his starts, and a 2-0 record for Darvish. As you should know, pitcher wins don’t matter, that is a team statistic, and clearly the 9 runs per game of run support that Darvish is getting is doing the heavy lifting. In Darvish’s first start, I said something like this on Twitter: “I feel like the Rangers offense is like a momma bear that does more to protect the cub that she knows is the weakest. Last year it was Holland, this year it’s Darvish.” That wasn’t exactly what I said, because that is 168 characters, but it was something like that, only 28 characters less. Derek Holland received an average of 9.23 of run support per start. Darvish is right on pace with that.

2. The 8th Inning

The Rangers are pulling a neat trick this week in the 8th inning. They score lots and lots of runs. After playing three games this week, the Rangers have now scored 16 runs. In the 8th inning. They have had 8th innings of 8, 3, and 5 runs. Here are the teams that have failed to score 16 runs for the entire week: Arizona, Boston, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit, Kansas City, LA Angels, LA Dodgers, Milwaukee, NY Mets, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, and Washington. That’s 20 teams. Some of these teams have played 36 innings this week, and the Rangers have outscored them in 3 innings, which all were the 8th inning of their games. The Rangers have sent 30 batters to the plate in those 8th innings, and their collective slash line is .636/.733/1.318. Those are beyond video game numbers.

The Rangers are the hottest team in the league right now, and are arguably one of the hottest teams to ever start a season. They lead the majors in both runs scored, and runs against. There is no facet of the game they are not dominating currently. It won’t always be like this, but it is astounding to see.

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