An absurd number of injuries dashed the Texas Rangers‘ playoff hopes this season before the All-Star break was even in sight. With player development now the main theme for the AL West cellar-dwellers, the Rangers’ brass must seriously consider limiting the innings pitched of three-time All-Star Yu Darvish.
Texas GM Jon Daniels has already ruled out the return of several injured players for the rest of the season and admitted that the club could have “pushed” injured slugger Prince Fielder to return for the stretch drive if the Rangers were in the playoff race. However, saddled with the worst record in the majors, Texas is focused on preparing young talent like centerfielder Leonys Martin for next year’s anticipated return back to a playoff contender.
Darvish has logged 534 1/3 innings in less than three seasons since joining the Rangers. The soon-to-be 28-year-old, who made his NPB debut at the age of 18, also threw nearly 1,300 innings in Japan. The hard-throwing right-hander has pitched more than 200 innings five times over the past seven seasons.
Baseball is a business and local fans pay their hard-earned money to watch elite players like Darvish perform. But that only means that Ron Washington needs to run out his staff ace for five frames at Globe Life Park. Texas can afford to give more than a few pitching prospects a taste of the big leagues over the final months of the season and lighten Darvish’s road assignments at the same time.
Although the Rangers are in danger of losing 100 games this season, things are not as bad it seems. Adrian Beltre is the catalyst for the AL fifth-best hitting team and this year’s futility almost guarantees Texas a top-five draft pick. But none of this will matter if the Rangers mismanage Darvish and put useless miles on one of the top arms in the game.
It’s no secret that big-league teams sometimes put players on the DL with dubious injuries. It is also good business to protect a multi-million dollar investment. The Rangers should seriously consider reducing the number of innings Darvish pitches in August before shutting down the star pitcher the final month of the season.