There is much anticipation in the air in Arlington surrounding the Texas Rangers and big league debut of Japanese pitcher, Yu Darvish.
Rangers fans won't have to wait much longer, as the 25-year-old right-hander is set to start tonight against the Seattle Mariners.
With the departure of ace pitcher C.J. Wilson, the Rangers searched to fill the absence that Wilson left on the starting rotation. Darvish, who has been playing professional ball since he was 18 years old, made quite an impression on the big league front offices during his tenure with the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Pacific League of Nippon Professional Baseball.
Darvish has created the buzz necessary for fans to forget the past and look towards the future. In fact, there was even a Darvish look-alike roaming around the ballpark on Opening Day, taking pictures with the fans in Arlington.
For his career, he twirled to a 93-38 record, with an ERA of 1.99 and a 0.83 WHIP, fanning 1,259, while walking only 333 in 1,268 1/3 innings. This past season, Darvish was sensational, checking in with a career-best 19-6 record, 1.44 ERA and 0.83 WHIP with an eye-popping 276 strikeouts against just 36 walks in 232 innings. Imagine how great his numbers might have been if he threw a gyroball.
Even more impressive is that in anticipation of being posted, Darvish spent most of last season preparing, emulating the American schedule and throwing bullpen sessions with the larger major league ball.
When they first arrive on the scene, Japanese pitchers fare better than their hitting counterparts due to their unusual motion, but Darvish has a more conventional three-quarters delivery. His repertoire features a four-seamer that sits at 91-94 mph and a vicious slider, complemented by a two-seamer, cutter, curve and a splitter.
All that remains to be seen is how Darvish's talent translates to the bigs. Fantasy pundits are required to say things like temper expectations, but Darvish has the ability to dominate from the start.
During spring training, Darvish showed some struggles with his control, but highlighted his ability to strikeout batters on a consistent level. In his last appearance in the Cactus League this spring, Darvish struck out 11 batters while throwing 98 pitches. His ERA during spring training was 3.60 and opponents hit .226 off him.
"I’ve seen a lot of confidence, and that’s why he’s been so good in Japan. We expect that to translate here in the United States and just keep us in ballgames, and I think he will."
Tonight will be the first of many tests to see if Darvish's abilities that he displayed in Japan can transfer to the MLB. Darvish is just one player on a Rangers team that is notably known for teamwork. However, the buzz and anticipation that he has created, not to mention the new demographic he brings in, is being welcomed with open arms by the Rangers.