I’m not the type of person who puts too much stock into one game or one performance, but any time you get not only one, but two standing ovations from Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan, you must have done something right. That was the case for Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish this evening as he threw 8 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball against the New York Yankees in a 2-0 win at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. Darvish, a 25-year old rookie from Habikino, Japan gave up seven hits in the effort, walked two, and struck out a season high ten batters in his performance tonight and more importantly gained confidence in his stuff that can be carried over to the next game. Darvish is starting to look like the “real deal”.
This was only the fourth start in Darvish’s young career so it way too early to predict what will happen to him not only in this season but in the years to come. But from what Texas has seen so far from the pitcher that they spent a reported 51.7 million dollars just to talk to (and then signed 30 days later to a six year, 60 million dollar contract) they have to be very encouraged. In his four starts Darvish has only given up 7 earned runs in 26 innings and has posted a 3-0 record for the Rangers. What makes that stat even more impressive in that in Darvish’s debut he was roughed in his first inning of Major League Baseball action and gave up four runs before recording his first three outs. Since then Darvish has only given up 4 runs in 25 innings, which would account for a 1.44 ERA since that first inning.
Pitching is all about keeping runs off the board, but there is one flaw in Darvish’s game that needs to be corrected if he wants to keep pitching at this incredible level that he’s started on. In his 26 innings so far this year he has walked a total of 15 batters, while only striking out 24. He had four walks in his first two starts, five in a win over the potent Tigers offense, and tonight he minimized the mistakes and only allowed two. If he can improve on the walk numbers and attack hitters effectively without giving them free passes then the sky is the limit for Yu Darvish.
There are lofty expectations set for Darvish as there have been for other Japanese players who make it to the Major League Baseball level. Tonight was a very encouraging step towards reaching those goals and anytime you can shut down the Yankees offense you have to be proud of what you accomplished. Texas fans will not be satisfied unless he continues making progress and producing results, but tonight the brass in Arlington can rest easy. Yu Darvish made me remember C.J. Wilson tonight (who the Rangers let go prior to this season), and then forget about the “Str8EdgeRacer”, because the ceiling for the Japanese import is in the penthouse above Wilson’s apartment. Texas has found a good one and I am excited to see if this kid can live up to the hype.