Finally, things are beginning to look up in the injury department. Ace Yu Darvish is scheduled to come off the disabled list and start this Sunday in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Darvish threw 86 pitches in a bullpen session earlier this week, so he clearly feels fine. But he hasn’t faced a live batter in nearly a month. Former catcher Ivan Rodriguez stood near the plate during the session, but that’s hardly the same thing. Nevertheless, and probably because of all the other injuries, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said Darvish would not be making a rehab start.
Opening day starter Tanner Scheppers remains in the rotation for now, despite a very unimpressive debut. Would-be starter Colby Lewis had poor command of his fastball and gave up 10 hits in a minor-league intersquad game earlier this week, which isn’t a good sign. Washington indicated that Lewis had a spot in the rotation when he was ready but that Lewis may or may not make a big league start this month.
This is a big year for Darvish. He had a great season last year, finishing second in the American League Cy Young voting. But other Japanese pitchers — think Hideo Nomo and Daisuke Matsuzaka — also started off well but then faded fast. But Darvish appears to be the real thing and not just a novelty act. The Rangers need more of the same from him this year, especially with Derek Holland on the shelf until July.
Darvish doesn’t turn 28 until August, so he may have many more good years ahead of him.