Yu Darvish has enough pressure on him as it is, I know, but let’s take a second to look at what the Rangers rookie has accomplished so far this season.
The first inning of his debut was far from stellar, and it probably made a few people nervous. Darvish walked three and gave up four hits and four runs. He had to throw 42 pitches just to get out of the inning, but he was able to settle down and keep the Rangers in it long enough to mount a comeback win.
Minus that one inning, Darvish’s numbers are much more impressive. He has given up just seven runs in almost 40 innings of work.
These stats have not come against offensively-challenged teams, either. Three of his six starts were against Cleveland, Toronto and New York, who all rank in the top 11 in runs scored in the MLB. Not to mention he held Detroit to one run in six innings.
His strikeout totals are also right where the Rangers were hoping they would be. Darvish is averaging a strikeout per inning thus far. His 44 total strikeouts are fifth in the AL, despite the fact that he has pitched over 10 innings less than those who rank above him.
The most concerning issue to this point is the high number of walks. His fastball command seems to be a leading cause. This may be a result of the different adjustments he is still making to pitching in the MLB, such as using a different size ball or focusing on the smaller American strike zone. Either way, Darvish had terrific control in Japan, so this seems less concerning than if he was giving up a lot of hits and homers.
The biggest reason the words Cy Young are being mentioned with Darvish is due to the expected improvements he can make on his already impressive start. There will be bumps in the road, of course, but he is technically only a rookie and still learning to pitch in a totally new environment.
Darvish does not deserve to have his name in front of guys like Justin Verlander or Jered Weaver yet. They are having terrific seasons, as expected.
But Darvish has one advantage that other pitchers in the AL do not have. He does not have to worry about pitching to the Rangers’ vaunted lineup, like Weaver will have to on multiple occasions
The rookie from Japan already has an AL Rookie of the Month award. Let‘s see what other hardware he can add by season's end.