To say Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish is on fire is an understatement. When the Rangers spent a total of $111.7 million to bring Darvish to Texas, many believed he would be better than the last high-profile pitcher to come from Japan (the Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Boston Red Sox), but not this good.
Darvish was flustered in the beginning of his first major league start back in early April, but quickly adjusted and finished the game strong. Since those first two innings, he has a staggering ERA of 0.87 and a 4-0 record. Those numbers and
The Rangers have won every game in which Darvish has appeared and he looks as consistent as advertised coming out of Japan last year. Of course he won’t be perfect this season, but predicting he’ll record 15 wins this year is easily plausible and even likely.
Darvish’s strongest attribute is his mental toughness. Most pitchers get rattled toward the fifth inning of games (if they last that long) and then either have to regroup of come out of the game. Not Darvish. Pitchers that simply don’t get rattled are few and far between, but Darvish headlines that elite group.
Considering that asset, the fact Darvish gets ahead in the count on roughly 75 percent of the batters he faces is almost expected. Indeed; in his latest victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 27 batters he faced in seven innings of work. Darvish’s numbers for the game? Four hits and one earned run given up while walking two and striking out nine – believe the hype.
The first-pitch-strike stat is one that often gets “noticed” but not for long. However, the greatest pitchers of all time all have one thing in common: they threw first-pitch strikes, which put them ahead of batters and kept them from working deep into counts often. In just a month of big league ball, Darvish at least appeared to have figured that out.
His consistency on the mound reminds one of a successful boxer – he lulls opposing teams to sleep with it and then goes through stretches of pure dominance that wow spectators, teammates and coaches alike. So of course the question now is ‘can he keep it up?’
It would be absurd to say “no” outright at this point, but not quite so unreasonable to say “yes.” As mentioned, the mental toughness and endurance that Darvish displays on a regular basis is an uncommon and coveted asset among pitchers of all ages and levels of baseball. He’ll continue this same style of play if that attribute is indeed a part of Darvish, the player, instead of a fad, streak, trend or whatever other descriptive noun fits his current run of success. Regardless, the Rangers aren’t going to change their socks, order of warm-up routine, or anything else until Darvish shows the slightest sign of regress.