COMMENTARY | Nearly halfway through his second year as a Texas Ranger and his second year in the Major Leagues, Yu Darvish has proven he can pitch like an ace.
An ace is what the Rangers have needed this season with all the injuries their pitching staff has endured. Opening day starter Matt Harrison went down after just two starts and the Rangers are still without Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz, both of whom were injured last season.
The Rangers knew Darvish could be an effective pitcher--after all, he won 16 games last year and had the third lowest batting average against in the American League. But he was also plagued by control problems and was inconsistent at times.
In 2013, Darvish seems to have found the consistency that eluded him last year. The 26-year-old right-hander from Japan is in the top 10 in the American League in several pitching categories, including ERA, WHIP, and lowest batting average against. He is leading the Major Leagues in strikeouts with 118 in 88 innings pitched for an average of just over 12 strikeouts per nine innings. Darvish has not allowed more than 4 runs in any of his starts, a big reason why his ERA is more than a full run lower than it was in 2012.
With some regular position players out with injuries in addition to the pitchers already on the disabled list, the Rangers need Darvish more than ever. He will need to pitch consistently well if the Rangers are to keep pace with Oakland in the AL West. Here are 3 things Darvish needs to continue doing in order to finish the 2013 just like he started it:
Go Deep Into Games
Darvish has pitched at least 7 innings in 8 of his 13 starts and has not pitched fewer than 5 innings in a start this year. Since some members of the Ranger bullpen have not been as consistent, the Rangers need their starters to pitch deep into games if they are going to have a chance to win.
Location, Location, Location
After averaging more than 4 walks per 9 innings last year, Darvish has been more in control in 2013. He has walked only 2.7 batters per 9 innings this year, and the result has been a sparkling WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) below 1. Fewer baserunners allowed generally translates to fewer runs allowed, and it certainly has for Darvish this season.
Embrace the Role of Ace
Harrison was projected to be the Rangers' ace this year, but that role has fallen to Darvish with Harrison out. And Darvish has not disappointed. He showed everyone just how dominant he can be in his first start of the season April 2 at Houston when he retired the first 26 batters in a row before the Astros broke up his perfect game bid. The ace of the pitching staff leads by example on the field. The team looks to its ace to stop losing streaks and continue winning streaks, and Darvish has been that kind of pitcher for Texas in 2013.
Brian Honea is a Dallas, Texas-based freelance writer who is a lifelong Texas Rangers follower.
- Sports & Recreation
- Yu Darvish