The debate of who should start for the Texas Rangers on opening day this year has been debated all offseason, but after just one week of spring action in the Cactus League, the choice is clear. One can never take too much from spring training, especially in this year’s early February start because of the World Baseball Classic, but Yu Darvish‘s spring debut was more than convincing.
Darvish’s primary competition for the Rangers’ No. 1 job was fellow 2012 All-Star Matt Harrison, who got shelled in his first spring start. Now Harrison will likely bounce back and then do just fine in the regular season, but he doesn’t have the swagger that Darvish apparently never lacks. It’s still February, yet Darvish looked in midseason form against the Chicago White Sox, throwing two perfect innings while fanning a pair of batters.
It’s one thing to just have a rough first start in spring training or even a really good one, but to approach it the way Darvish did Tuesday is something that can’t be taught. He doesn’t take time off from being focused and ready to give it his very best at all times. That’s not to say that Harrison is a slacker during the offseason and/or spring training, but he just doesn’t have that X-factor that’s necessary for an ace pitcher.
Rangers manager Ron Washington said it perfectly after Darvish’s incredible performance: “Mentally, he’s in a different place.” Darvish not only has the arm and the unbelievably wide variety of pitches to be an ace, but he has that “it” factor that really can’t be described. He’s just a star and he’s only had pitched in the big leagues for one year, turning in the best season by a rookie pitcher in Rangers history. If there was any doubt of a sophomore slump or that Darvish wasn’t the man to lead Texas’ rotation in 2013, he’s already laid it to rest and opening day is still a month away.