There are times when a private jet and a golden ticket to any sporting event in the nation would come in handy. Tonight's Rangers vs. Angels tilt is definitely one of those instances. In one of the more serendipitous matchups in recent memory, Yu Darvish will take the mound against C.J. Wilson.
The mega-free agent who was let go is pitted against the international superstar who was brought in to replace him.
Despite having lost his first game of the season on Sunday, falling 4-2 to the Indians, Darvish is wowing onlookers six starts into his young MLB career. He's 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA over 39 innings. He's proven to be ambidextrous (in warm-ups at least), and his arm just oozes "stuff."
He's really, really good, and it's painfully obvious.
Through his first three games, Darvish couldn't quite put it all together, suffering from some control problems despite his 2-0 record over that span. He didn't last past 6.1 innings in any of the three starts (or strike out more than five batters), and suffered from a bit of inefficiency, topping out at 121 pitches against Detroit on April 19th.
Then, he tossed an 8.1 inning, 2-1 gem against the Yankees in his next start, and has struck out 10, nine and 11 batters, respectively, over his last three outings. So, early concerns of his inability to throw strikes on this continent disappeared for a pair of starts, and peeked out again during the loss in his last outing.
According to Brooksbaseball.net, Darvish has displayed an amazing repertoire early on, with an arsenal that includes a four-seam fastball, sinker, cutter, slider, curveball, changeup and splitter. Zoinks.
And his stuff is especially "whiffy" as well, with batters swinging and missing at especially high rates on his slider (47.06 percent) and curveball (45.65). So he's got "out" pitches—an he's using them.
Right now, it seems as if his six-year, $56 million dollar contract was well worth it for Jon Daniels and the Texas brass, especially considering Wilson's five-year, $77.5 million dollar deal. The Angels had to cough up $20 million more for a year less than the Rangers got with Darvish, to land a guy who is 31 and choked badly in last year's playoffs.
This is not a knock on Wilson's effort thus far in 2012—he is holding up his end of the bargain with a 4-2 record over six starts and 41.1 innings while sporting a 2.61 ERA—it's simply an objective assessment of "contract A" vs. "contract B," and the Rangers seem to have won this on in every respect.
As long as the 25-year-old Darvish doesn't develop a phobia of the strike zone (a la Daisuke Matsuzaka), then not only is the AL Rookie of the Year his to lose, but many will have a tough time keeping him off of their Cy Young ballots come this fall.