At times during his MLB rookie season, Yu Darvish has been just as frustratingly inconsistent as fellow starting pitcher Derek Holland. But much like Holland, Darvish has shown flashes of greatness.
Over his last few starts, it seems as though Darvish is finally starting to put it all together—harnessing his repertoire and improving his command all while attacking the strike zone with his premium stuff.
Yu Darvish is hitting his stride while becoming a top-of-the-rotation force capable of helping the Texas Rangers down the stretch as they attempt a third consecutive postseason run with their eyes on the ultimate prize.
It's not just his recent haircut that seems to hint at Yu Darvish's new-found poise. Darvish, almost start by start, appears to be maturing into the ace everyone knew he could be.
Naturally, he still has his occasional bouts of wildness, but all in all, Darvish has been a much-improved pitcher over the month of August. This could be prove to be bad news for the opposition come playoff time.
Darvish has had a mixed bag of success in this, his first season in the major leagues. Regardless of the outcome of his starts, Darvish will give you some innings.
As the regular season turns into the postseason, a starting pitcher that is capable of giving his team innings is a huge asset. As we all learned last year, a team's bullpen can be the difference in winning a series or going home early.
Darvish has the ability to go deep enough in games—even when he doesn't have his best stuff—to keep the bullpen rested and sharp.
Truly the only thing stopping Yu Darvish from becoming one of the game's elite starting pitchers is his battle with command issues. In other words, Darvish is his own worst enemy.
However, he might be turning the corner...
Over his last two starts, Darvish's walk total has dropped dramatically. Over a combined 14 innings, he's managed to walk just three. This is a marked improvement for him, as he had walked less than two batters in a game only once prior to his two most recent outings.
Another good sign: His drop in walks hasn't resulted in his being hit any harder (or more frequently) than he has in the past; and his strikeouts per nine innings are still in the double digits.
Darvish has a ridiculous assortment of weapons for which he can choose. Occasionally, this can get him into trouble as he tends to over-think things while on the hill.
In recent starts, though, he has had success with his fastball early in the count and then used his splitter as a swing-and-miss pitch.
Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, and it's a great sign that Darvish is now focusing on commanding three or four (rather than all eight) of his plus offerings per game.
Darvish has had a knack for pitching well at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. As history tells us, RBIA is most certainly no pitcher's paradise.
In spite of this, Darvish has managed to go 9-2 with a 4.10 ERA in his own backyard. This may prove to be especially beneficial to the Texas Rangers should they continue to hold the American League's best record and secure home-field advantage in the playoffs.
As mentioned earlier, Yu Darvish has a gigantic pitch repertoire, and when he can command the strike zone, his seemingly limitless pitch options can make him nearly un-hittable.
Sometimes when Darvish's control is iffy, it's his raw, electric "stuff" that can help him out of a jam. Darvish's many offerings sizzle, dance and jump on a nearly unprecedented level. It's why he can get swings-and-misses on pitches that bounce five feet in front of the plate.
It's also why he might be especially effective in the postseason when pitching is at a true premium. When he's going good, even a batter sitting dead-red on his fastball might not be able to square up on the pitch due to its extreme movement.
The Detroit Tigers produced a triple-slash line of .162/.288/.294 against Darvish while striking out 23 times.
The Yankees hit just .259 off of him and have yet to drive in a run.
Darvish is a showman. We truly haven't seen this side of the young right-hander just yet in the United States...but that could soon change.
Come playoff time, there are always a few players that can elevate their game, ratcheting up their skill sets to a seemingly unreachable level; Colby Lewis is a prime example.
Yu Darvish is the type of pitcher that has another gear altogether when the stakes rise. There's no way he's not going to be at his optimal level come October...he'll be ready to put on a show for his legions of fans, no doubt.
Darvish has yet to experience a Major League Baseball playoff game. But it's not like he hasn't played on the grandest of stages.
He's pitched in the World Baseball Classic, and represented Japan in the Olympics before. He knows when it's necessary to rise to the occasion and has shown no difficulty in doing so.
I'm willing to bet he'll be able to reach those levels for the Texas Rangers during their postseason run as well.
I'm not sure that MLB has ever had a player as popular on a worldwide level as Yu Darvish. Remember when he was voted into the MLB All-Star Game at the last minute?
Sure, Ranger Nation voted quite a few times, but Japan is the reason why he made it to Kansas City for the Midsummer Classic.
Spring training games were televised in Japan when Yu Darvish was throwing in Arizona. He's as close to a rock star as anything the big leagues have ever seen. In other words, no stage is too big for Yu Darvish. Especially not the MLB Playoffs.
Come October, Darvish will play a key role as the Rangers attempt to romp their way to a third straight A.L. Pennant.