The Texas Rangers were right. They won the Yu Darvish sweepstakes when they outbid other Major League clubs for the Japanese hurler last year. The more he pitches the more it appears that he was worth the bucks.
Darvish is 6-1 with a 2.73 earned run average and is becoming a genuine ace in his second season in the bigs.
It cost the Rangers more than $51 million to gain the right to negotiate with Yarvish and then they signed him to a six-year, $60 million contract. That’s a substantial investment and yet the deal is looking pretty good. Aces are hard to come by at any cost.
Darvish’s latest success story on the mound was authored just the other day when he pitched seven innings, struck out eight, and gave up three runs in a victory over the Houston Astros. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound righty is leading the American League in strikeouts with 80 in eight games.
By older standards of business as a full-fledged member of a baseball rotation when pitch counts weren’t so emphasized and starts every four days were common, Darvish would just about have completed one full year of service.
Put in that context his numbers are eye-poppingly good. Last year Darvish made 29 starts and finished 16-9. His ERA went up a bit as the summer wore on, but he did a first-rate job as a rookie and was a last-minute selection to the American League all-star team.
Now put his 2012 and his month-plus of 2013 together and this is what you get: 37 starts, a 22-10 record over 244 innings with just 186 hits allowed, and 301 strikeouts. His earned run average is 3.65 and is on the way down.
Not bad. Not bad at all. Those are all-star statistics.
And Darvish is still only 26 despite his longevity in Japan. He was a wunderkind overseas with a 93-38 record and a 1.99 ERA in Japan. Also in Japan he won two Most Valuable Player awards, three strikeout titles, and was a five-time all-star. That was enough of a track record to attract interest from a multitude of big-league clubs.
Everyone in the Rangers’ organization believed that Darvish would be improved in 2013 and just to make the point on April 2 started the season by nearly pitching a perfect game against the Astros. He carried the perfecto into the ninth, but after 8 2/3 innings Darvish yielded a single. He also struck out 14 that day.
Earlier this month Darvish had another 14-strikeout game. It’s a habit with him now. And that was against the Red Sox, not the Astros again.
Yu Darvish has pretty much established himself as the king of the Rangers’ staff. It’s too soon to predict, but he could well be on his way to establishing himself as the king of the league the way he did in Japan.