Perception is a powerful thing. Our feeble brains get so caught up in the excitement of, well, anything that they all but stop working sometimes. When it comes to baseball pitchers, it works both ways.
Yu Darvish is one of the most dominant starters in baseball right now. He leads the league in strikeouts and has come with an out of throwing two different no-hitters. He has 10 starts this season in which he lasted at least six innings and allowed three or fewer hits, more than any other pitcher in baseball.
For some, it isn’t enough. For others, it distracts from the a bigger, less rosy picture. Crazed as might seem, the question bounced around on twitter this weekend (spearheaded by Rangers fans and watchers): is Yu Darvish an ace?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is still yes but it certainly bears investigating. The knock on Yu Darvish seems to be he lacks the killer instinct. He appears (this is the key word) vulnerable against weaker hitters and appears unable to get the shutdown innings required to push his team to a win. Maybe there is something to it? For all his dominance, the Rangers are just 14-11 in games Yu Darvish starts. As Jamey Newberg points out, that is a .560 winning percentage. Which is very good! It is worse, however, than the Rangers winning percentage in game started by everybody else.
@mbgreen17 That's cool. My point: the stats do not show the close games he hasn't won, leads he has given up, & the #9 hitters who hit him.
— Eric Nadel (@nadeler) August 25, 2013
@NewbergReport 7-9 hitters have a .170/.228/.303 slash against Darvish. I don't think perception matches reality.
— Peter Ellwood (@FutureGM) August 25, 2013
Perhaps Darvish needs to “find another gear” to keep runs off the board when it really matters most. On Saturday night, the Rangers staked their ace to a two run lead in the fifth inning only to see him give it right back, allowing a line drive single to Gordon Beckham then a two-run homer to Adam Dunn.
The reality is no pitcher throws a shutout every time out, and only posting two runs of support for any pitcher, even one as good as Darvish, is just asking for trouble. Maybe there is something to the Rangers inability to post the sort of winning record a starter of Darvish’s quality affords them. Maybe there isn’t. Maybe this is the worst case of rich people problems in the history of baseball. (I’m almost positive it is.)
13 days ago. RT @nadeler: When is the last time Yu won a game 2-1 or 3-2?
— Bennett Hipp (@bennetthipp) August 25, 2013
So tilt at windmills as they might, some Rangers fans need to see Darvish step up when it matters most. Their perception is of a player who struggles against weak hitters or costs his team by an inability to step on the throat of the bottom of batting orders. Reality suggests a much different fact pattern but hey, who needs reality when you’re aggravated that the best player on your team isn’t quite good enough for your liking?
History shows that once Yu Darvish wins a big game or delivers that killer performance when they need him most, the same fans who now criticize will never forget it and continually look past each and every one of his shortcoming because he pitched really well that one time. It’s hardly fair but it’s the nature of the myopic beast.
Game Chart of the Weekend
I MEAN HONESTLY! 18 innings of Phillies action, who can take handle such abuse? A game featuring not one but TWO position players pitching, one relieving the other!
Phils utility man John McDonald — the Prime Minister of Defence himself! — got the final out of the 18th inning after outfielder Casper Wells (who touched 91 mph with his fastball and got the full scouting treatment here) coughed up four runs to hand the lead to the Diamondbacks. A lead protected by Trevor Cahill, starting pitcher who went four innings Saturday night after throwing 94 pitches on Thursday.
It was a time, indeed.
Elias: Last night's game (7 hours, 6 minutes) was longest game since HOU beat LAD, 5-4, on 6/3/1989, in 22 innings in 7 hours, 14 minutes.
— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) August 25, 2013
Saturday night’s marathon game, in which the Phillies used nine actual pitcher pitchers forced manager Ryne Sandberg into a corner. He needed a new starter for Sunday afternoon’s series finale against Arizona. So Sandberg called up his general manager and asked if he could borrow the man scheduled to start for the Reading Phillies that day, Mr. Roy Halladay.
And start Roy Halladay did. Well, a version of Roy Halladay. This wasn’t vintage Roy Halladay, but it was plenty good enough Roy Halladay. The Phillies ace (?) went six innings, allowed just two runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out just two, coaxing only six swinging strikes from the somnambulant Snakes.
It was good enough for a Sunday getaway game, which is really all it needed to be. Halladay is recovering from shoulder surgery, which doesn’t require the “serious” designation as he is a pitcher and it is his shoulder. His release point was closer to where it needs to be even if the results overshadow an overall meh performance.
With free agency looming for Roy Halladay, it is important for the two-time Cy Young award winner to demonstrate health first and effectiveness later. Getting his body (and stuff) back to where it as close to his best is all he can hope for. Phillies fans don’t have much else to look forward to for the rest of this season, at least watching Roy Halladay resemble his former self might send them into the winter with something to smile about.
Rather than reliving glories of the past, Jose Fernandez continues demonstrating that the future is now for the Marlins right-hander. Jose Fernandez just kept destroying worlds this weekend, ho-humming the Rockies with seven shutout innings, striking out eight and not walking a single man. Not only did Fernandez dominate the Rox, he downright embarassed some of them with his filthy arsenal.
Troy Tulowitzki is a great hitter and has been over more than 3500 career plate appearances. He has seen just about everything a professional pitcher can hurl at him. He is not a man easily fooled. Jose Fernandez is a different breed, however. Via literary hero Carson Cistulli:
That just ain’t fair.
Jose Fernandez since 6/1: 100.1 IP, 58 hits, 30 BB, 113 K's, 2 HRs allowed. 1.52 ERA
— jasoncollette (@jasoncollette) August 25, 2013
Neither is that.
Always one step forward, two steps back with the Marlins.
Great Moments in WTF?
Baseball, man. It makes little to no sense almost all the time. Which makes it great, in the end.