Ahhhhhhhh Yuuuuuuuuuu ( yes, that’s a Soulja Boy reference), so much hype and such an enormous contract, but after two starts people are already starting to ask questions on just how good the Japanese phenomenon is. In Japan, the Big Yunit (Randy Johnson fans should appreciate that one) was virtually untouchable. Through seven years the stats spoke for themselves: 1.99 ERA, roughly 1,300 strikeouts and a WHIP of less than one. Not only that, but since he was pitching as an 18-year-old, his numbers just kept getting better and better. How could the Rangers not want a piece of that explosive right arm?
But then April came, and just as everyone in Arlington was ready to see the unveiling of their new toy, they were given something of a wake-up call as Yu’s first professional outing left much to be desired. With all the enormous pressure mounted on the young pitcher, his numbers reflected exactly that with five earned runs, four batters walked and eight hits allowed. While that may not be exactly what most folks in Arlington were expecting, there is some good news that came from that performance. First and foremost, the majority of Darvish’s runs allowed came in the very first inning of his MLB career as it was just painfully obvious the pressure got to the kid and he tried to over-perform at the expense of his control. That will change and it was already apparent that after his first inning pitched, he settled in and only allowed one more run over the course of four more innings.
To make matters better for Texas fans, Yu proved that his command in the last four innings of his first MLB game was no fluke as he only allowed one run in his second outing against the Minnesota Twins over 5 2/3 innings. So when you look at it mathematically, Darvish has allowed only two runs in his last ten innings pitched compared to the four he allowed in only one inning. Not too shabby.
Now while that’s not to say that Darvish will always pitch one-run ball for every ten innings he throws, I think it’s clear that the talent is there and that his sub-two ERA in Japan was no accident. I’m not saying those kind of numbers are going to translate directly into the US of A, but there’s also nothing to indicate that he’s plateaued yet or that his best days aren’t ahead of him. If I’m a Rangers fan, though (which I just so happen to be), then I am psyched to have him on my team and am eager to see what he can do once he starts to find his rhythm within the pitching rotation.