Results tagged ‘ Yu Darvish ’
By Rob Neyer@ Baseball Nation
After beating the Detroit Tigers Thursday night, Yu Darvishis 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA. He hasn’t allowed a single home run.
Pretty good, right?
Well, sure. Those numbers are pretty good. It’s some others that are just a tad worrisome. In his 17⅔ innings, Darvish has issued 13 walks. That’s a lot of walks, and essentially negates his 14 strikeouts. Well, balances in an ugly way, at least. So what’s with all the walks? Here’s FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron:
The main reason appears to be directly related to the first pitch of each at-bat. Darvish has thrown a first pitch strike to just 48% of the batters he’s faced – league average is 59%. Most pitchers, especially the good ones, are able to get ahead in the count with regularity and expand the zone from there. Darvish has had to pitch from behind in the count to 46 of the 88 batters he’s faced this year, and opposing batters are just choosing to lay off his hard-to-hit breaking balls and wait for a fastball that they know is coming eventually.
In Japan, of course, this wasn’t Darvish at all. He walked just 1.4 batters per nine innings in 2011, and his ability to pound the zone while still missing bats is part of what made him so good. However, the quality of competition is clearly different in the Major Leagues, and to date, Darvish hasn’t shown the same ability to consistently throw his fastball for strikes.
It’s a fine line, perhaps, but I think the problem isn’t that Darvish can’t throw his fastball for strikes — especially to left-handed hitters — but rather that he won’t. I just don’t see any reason to believe that a pitcher who absolutely pounded the strike zone with great stuff in Japan would suddenly lose the ability to do the same thing here.
And make no mistake Rangers fans, we have seen this thing play out before with Daisuke Matsuzaka.
In 2008, far & away Dice-K’s best season he went 18-3 while posting a 2.90 ERA.
At face value this appears to be one hell of a season, but closer inspection reveals the ugly truth of it.
Because of his league leading 94 walks and insane penchant for “nibbling” around the plate he only managed 167 innings in 29 starts, or five & two-thirds inning per start. The Red Sox bullpen collapsed in September under a heavy workload caused by Wakefield and Matsuzaka’s short starts.
Sure, maybe his stuff just doesn’t play as well here. Maybe Japanese hitters chased a lot more pitches outside the strike zone. Maybe maybe maybe. Maybe Yu Darvish has exactly the same stuff, exactly the same skills, exactly the same talent that gave him a sub-2.00 ERA in each of his last four seasons in Japan. But maybe he doesn’t have the same confidence in his stuff and his skills and his talent when he looks plateward and sees, one after another, the Greatest Hitters on Earth.
So he’s staying away from those Earth’s Greatest Left-Handed Hitters, and to this point it’s sorta worked; he has that 3.57 ERA, and he hasn’t allowed a homer. Ultimately, though, he can’t maintain a 3.57 ERA while walking seven batters per nine innings. It’s possible, though, that he won’t figure that out until he takes a few bad losses.
Ultimately, he won’t be the pitcher the Rangers thought they were getting until he starts challenging left-handed hitters. And yes, giving up the occasional home run. That’s what happens over here, no matter who you are.
One player the Yankees have scouted heavily is Yu Darvish. And there is strong belief around the game that the top starter in Japan will, indeed, be posted this offseason and come to the States.
“He is coming, period,” one personnel man said.
The Yankees have had sour experience with high-profile Japanese pitchers Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa, whose five-year contract finally expires this year. And the last can’t-miss Japanese pitcher to come to the majors, Daisuke Matsuzaka, was hardly a bonanza for the Red Sox.
So you wonder if there will be greater financial caution with Darvish this winter or will the hunger for pitching motivate teams to bid. I will say this, I have not sensed that the Igawa experience will take the Yankees, for example, out of the Japanese marketplace.
Darvish is certainly attractive as a pitcher. He is 6-foot-5, 25 years old, pitches at 93-94 mph with the ability to touch higher than that and is known for having an inventive and competitive spirit on the mound. He is 15-3 with a 1.59 ERA and 182 strikeouts in 158 innings for the Nippon Ham Fighters.
Months later, Darvish still hasn’t commented on the matter.
But that hasn’t stopped MLB teams from scouting him and dreaming of how he might fare near the top of a big league starting rotation.
In late June, Rangers GM Jon Daniels headed to Japan to see Darvish for himself. Many other front office executives have done the same. And every major league club is at least keeping some form of tabs on the 6-foot-5 right-hander.
Darvish registered a 1.82 ERA as a rookie in 2007, a 1.88 ERA in 2008, a 1.73 ERA in 2009, and a 1.78 ERA in 2010. This season, he is 13-2 with a miniscule 1.44 ERA for the Nippon Ham Fighters.
Even with Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s failures, Darvish stands to make millions upon millions if he agrees to test out the posting process. He is Japan’s highest-paid player at $6 million annually. In the U.S., he could easily double that.
In fact, I strongly suspect the New York Yankees, despite the nightmare that was Kei Igawa, will move heaven & earth to win the rights to Mr. Darvish’s services.
Simply put, in a market devoid of quality free agent pitching for the next season and change, this is by far the most effective way to upgrade their rotation without having to hand over the keys to their entire farm system.
We have ALL seen the outlandish package the Rockies indicated they wanted for Ubaldo Jimenez and there is rampant speculation about what it would take to pry King Felix away from the Seattle Mariners.
The scenario for either would look something like this:
- The Yankees receive Felix Hernandez or Ubaldo Jimenez…
- The Rockies or Mariners receive Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren and/or David Phelps AND Ivan Nova.
I’m sorry, but that is a ridiculously high price to pay for a pitcher, even a top-tier, ace of the staff type guy.
You are giving up 4 or 5 guys who all have the looks of being major league pitchers that range from serviceable/solid to the ace of a staff, while sprinkling a 21 year old with unlimited potential at the dish on top.
Granted, prospects are just prospects until they do something to change that fact, but as a form of currency alone they are worth their weight in gold.
If you make that deal you not only strip your organization of pitching depth, but you also no longer have those trade chips to go out and make other moves that may be necessary down the road.
No, the smart play is to hold onto those young guns and see if one or more of them can be developed into your own ace of the future.
If you are the Yankees especially your best bet is to take the one currency you have in seemingly endless amounts, real currency, and throw great big bags of it at Yu Darvish’s team (and then him) to bolster your rotation should he ever be submitted for the posting process.
It’s a roll of the dice, no doubt about it.
But then again, so is any move you make. Might was well choose the one that would be the least costly should it blow up in your face.