Against the New York Yankees last night, Texas Rangers starter Yu Darvish threw eight and a third innings giving up zero runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out ten batters throwing 119 pitches, 82 of which were for strikes, including 15 whiffs.
It seems false to point to one moment as a player’s arrival, but given the tremendous expectations on Darvish, brought on by the equally tremendous amount of money that the Rangers spent on the pitcher who hadn’t thrown to a single batter in Major League Baseball, his dominance of what has undoubtedly been the most offensive lineup in baseball so far this season is probably the reason that “arrival” cliché exists.
Perhaps my favourite line of the night came from Jeff Sullivan of Baseball Nation:
Yu Darvish just needed to face the Yankees’ lineup in Texas to get comfortable
— Jeff Sullivan (@LookoutLanding) April 25, 2012
This is a taste of what batters facing Darvish had to deal with:
According to Brooks Baseball, the Rangers starter threw six different types of pitches last night. The green line above represents his four seam fastball, which Darvish threw 42 times and had a maximum speed of 97 miles per hour.
However, the ball wasn’t leaving his hand in a manner quite as defined as the graph above would have us believe. After all, this is only measuring the averages of the algorithm defined pitches. In reality, things were a bit crazier, as you might find
You might be able to make seven or eight different classifications out of the movement that Darvish was offering on his pitches last night. Based solely on this outing, I imagine a scouting report handed to a batter prior to facing Darvish would be one big piece of paper with the words “GOOD LUCK” written in the centre.
So, while Sullivan’s tweet makes us laugh, this one from Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus should frighten what we in the industry refer to as the bejesus out of anyone not affiliated with the Texas Rangers:
What’s scary is that Darvish has the all components necessary to pitch even better than this. This is just a taste of the ceiling.
— Jason Parks (@ProfessorParks) April 25, 2012
The first time I heard about Darvish was during the last incarnation of the World Baseball Classic. The story seemed like the stuff of legend. There existed this great young pitcher playing in Japan who apparently exhibited no eagerness to play in America, where stardom was obviously waiting.
After that, you would hear his name used once in a while, but there wasn’t much in the way of continued chatter until the conclusion of the 2010 season when his being posted was a possibility. Of course, nothing ended up happening that off season, but a year later, the rumours came back even stronger and he was eventually posted by his team in Japan.
The speculation both here and back in Japan was frenzied, until it was announced that the Hokkaido Fighters had accepted the highest bid, posted by the Texas Rangers. As expected, just before the deadline to do so, the team and Darvish agreed to a six year contract with an opt out clause after five years. In total, the Rangers committed to spending more than $11o million to sign Darvish.
While that investment is far from paying off, last night’s performance is a good sign of great things to come.
And The Rest
Was one of the pitches that Darvish threw last night an infamous shuuto ball? [Baseball Prospectus]
According to Sports Illustrated/FanGraphs, the Kansas City Royals are the seventh best team in baseball. The Toronto Blue Jays, fresh off of sweeping the Royals in a four game series, are the twentieth best team. [Sports Illustrated]
Things are not looking good for Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman after MRI results on his injured shoulder were “not real favourable.” There was a risk in the Nationals giving their best position player a contract extension this past off season and they’re realizing it already. [Washington Post]
New York Mets starter Mike Pelfrey will be examined by Dr. James Andrews because of a suspected UCL tear. The Mets are preparing to lose the pitcher for the season. [Mets Blog]
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey got thrown at last night after Joey Votto was plunked in the same game. It was bush league. [San Francisco Chronicle]
The San Francisco Giants night can be further summed up here. [Getting Blanked]
If you have any interest at all in the Roger Clemens perjury case, and I don’t anticipate I will until about four minutes before a verdict is reached, you should probably follow Ken Davidoff’s writing on the subject matter. [New York Post]
The Baltimore Orioles just can’t quit being the Baltimore OriLOLes. [Getting Blanked]
The Jackie Robinson biopic has a release date. [Business Wire]
Your morning troll: The New York Mets should’ve kept Jose Reyes and gotten rid of David Wright. [ESPN New York]
Kyle Kendrick: overrated. Cha. Cha. Cha cha cha. [Crashburn Alley]
Finally, it’s the latest episode of the Getting Blanked show, wherein we all agree that Derek Jeter is really, really, really good. The limbs we go out on in that show. Pretty riveting stuff. [Getting Blanked]