Yu Darvish: Expectations Too High From the Start
Image: Leon Halip/Getty Images
By Todd Kaufmann
Through three starts, Texas Rangers’ right-hander Yu Darvish has picked up two wins, a 3.96 earned run average, and he beat arguably one of the best offenses in baseball.
Yet Darvish is still not impressing people.
CBS Radio’s Richie Whitt even went as far as to call Darvish, “underwhelming.” Over his last two starts (12 IP), Darvish has given up just two earned runs. Put those same numbers under the name Colby Lewis or even Neftali Feliz and you’d be doing cartwheels.
From the very start of the process, Darvish had been called the best player to ever come out of Japan. That word traveled fast and made its way to fans and media alike. That word was held against the Texas Rangers although it was not the organization themselves who were saying it. They liked what they saw and it was the reason they invested the kind of money they did. But I don’t remember Rangers’ CEO Nolan Ryan coming out in a press conference and calling the 25-year old the best thing since sliced bread.
RJ Choppy, one half of New School on CBS Radio in Dallas/Ft Worth, said earlier this week that Darvish was, “no Justin Verlander.” Were people actually expecting Yu Darvish to come into the big leagues and be on the same level of an AL Cy Young award winner?
If those were the kind of expectations put on him by the media along with the fans, it’s no wonder he’s being called “underwhelming.” That would be like expecting Tony Romo to win a Super Bowl every year. Sorry, Cowboy fans.
Just for grins, since Choppy brought it up, let’s compare the first three starts of Yu Darvish’s Major League Baseball career to that of Justin Verlander’s first three big league starts.
Yu Darvish: 2-0 17.2 IP 19 H 8 R 7 ER 13 BB 14 K’s
Justin Verlander: 0-3 17.1 IP 21 H 12 R 10 ER 8 BB 11 K’s
So, I actually will give Choppy a little bit of credit. Darvish is no Justin Verlander, he’s actually better to this point, aside from the amount of walks, than Verlander was through his first three starts of his career.
Maybe this will make you feel a little better. Verlander gave up 17 runs (14 earned) through his first four starts (1-2) of the 2006 season, good for a 5.82 earned run average.
Still want to complain about how Darvish has fared so far? Aside from his walks, which anyone would agree are far too high, he has been able to get himself out of at least a few bases loaded situations. And, facing arguably the best offense in the American League, aside from their own, he only allowed a single run to the Detroit Tigers.
You can dismiss his starts against the Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins, but to do what he did against the Tigers, it deserves more credit than most want to give him.
It is still the first month of the season so the jury is still out on what kind of pitcher Darvish is going to be during his Texas Rangers’ career. If you expected him to be go out and be the ace of this rotation in his very first season, you may want to re-think your expectations.
They were a tad too high.
Yu Darvish is going to be a good, if not great, pitcher for the Texas Rangers. Expecting him to be a top of the rotation starter the moment he walks through the door is putting too much on his shoulders. It’s the reason every Ranger fan in Dallas/Ft Worth is wondering why the organization spent so much money on him.
It’s the same reason a lot of fans wondered why they would go get a reliever in Mike Adams and bring him from a pitcher friendly park to a hitter friendly park. They questioned whether he could or even would be successful for stretch run. Though Adams was shakey during his first few outings, he was able to get himself settled and comfortable in the role he was brought in for.
That comfort level has led him to be one of the best relievers, next to Alexi Ogando, in the Rangers’ bullpen. It’s the reason most teams know that if they don’t have the lead late in the game, they aren’t going to get the win.
It took Adams awhile to get comfortable, so why shouldn’t it take Darvish the same amount of time to get a set routine with this team?
You can bite your nails all you want. The Rangers know exactly what they got with Yu Darvish. They know exactly what kind of pitcher he is going to be for this organization. It’s the reason they spent so much time scouting him in Japan.
If they believed anything else, they never would have made the kind of effort they did to bring him in.
Fans want to say, “trust [general manager] Jon Daniels and trust Nolan Ryan.” Maybe they want to take their own advice with Darvish. He’s gotten better in each of his last three starts. While his walks are still too high, he continues to show that he is going to battle every time he goes out there.
We’re not even a full month into the season. If he’s improved over three starts, just imagine what he can do with the next three.