The Rangers need Yu Darvish to be their “ace” in 2013, but is that something he is capable of shouldering at this point?
Last offseason, the Rangers heavily courted and eventually lured the young, talented right-hander to Texas. Darvish was very impressive out of the gate, mowing down hitters and showing off his extensive repertoire. He then went into a little funk before finishing the season strong, going seven innings or more in six out of his last eight starts.
The Rangers rotation as presently constituted is in a state of flux. The team traded for and then lost Ryan Dempster. Neftali Feliz is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and they are planning to bring Alexi Ogando back into the rotation. Matt Harrison had a great season, but it may not be realistic to believe he will repeat that performance.
In my opinion, an ace is someone who gives you a chance to win every time they toe the rubber. They battle and keep their teams in the game, even when they don’t have their best stuff. They go deep into games, get strikeouts when needed and act as a stopper during losing streaks.
From August 17th to September 20th, Darvish showed that he has ace potential and the ability to lead a staff. Darvish went seven innings or more in six consecutive starts during the aforementioned time frame. He struck out eight or more batters in five of the six starts, including two 10-strikeout performances in back to back games.
That should pretty much answer the question as to whether or not he has the ability. The question then becomes, does he have the consistency to do it night in and night out?
Darvish had a very stellar rookie campaign, but it was not all smooth sailing. He struggled with his command, walking four or more batters in 11 outings. He also hit 10 batters and threw eight wild pitches.
Darvish flashed his dominance during his first big-league season, as he recorded seven double-digit strikeout performances on his way to 221 strikeouts as a rookie. The Japanese hurler pitched deep into games, going seven innings or more in 14 of his 29 starts. Darvish went 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA, and he showed that he has the ability to be a power pitcher (based on his high strikeout totals) as well as the potential to be an ace of a staff.
The Rangers have many questions to answer regarding their rotation. From whether Matt Harrison can repeat his 2012 performance, to if Neftali Feliz will return to the rotation or go back in the bullpen. The one question they may already have an answer to is who their Opening Day starter will be.
I think the choice is pretty clear that Yu Darvish will get the nod, and Rangers fans may be in for a ride if he improves in any way on his 2012 performance.