Difference Maker: Yu Darvish

When Yu Darvish came stateside he brought with him high expectations and a gaggle of Japanese media. His Major League debut was very shaky and he continued to struggle through the first two-thirds of his rookie season. The strikeouts were there, but so were a bunch of walks and a bloated earned run average.
August 6th in Boston would be Darvish’s low point. The Japanese phenom looked lost after giving up nearly a run per inning in 5 consecutive starts and watching his ERA balloon from 3.59 to 4.57.

Things were not going well and Ron Washington wanted to find out where his superstar hurler’s head was.

During an informal chat Wash told Yu to relax, to stop worrying about what people expected of him, and to just be Yu. Afterwards the Ranger skipper told the media “I think we are about to see something special the rest of the way here. I don’t know when it’s going to click in, but it’s going to click in.”

It turns out that Wash was onto something, as Darvish posted a 2.35 ERA in his next 8 starts. He also struck out 67 batters (in only 57.1 innings) and cut his walk rate nearly in half.

And while you can look at the results and say that those 8 starts were a great way to end a pretty good rookie campaign, I think we were actually seeing a preview of what was to come. I think Darvish was rounding into form and, what’s more, I think he’s going to seriously contend for a Cy Young Award in 2013.

Then again, there are all those maybes to consider.

Maybe Yu gets off to another slow start. Maybe the hitters adjust and he doesn’t. Maybe he gets hurt and misses significant time. Maybe he’s good, but other pitchers are better. Maybe he’s not that good. Maybe he’s just another Dice-K. Maybe I’m asking too much. Maybe I’ve been duped by a small sample size. Maybe a feathered, Mesoamerican deity is about to swallow the Earth and we’re all about to die and nobody’s going to win a Cy Young Award this year.

Or maybe, as Ron Washington predicted, we’re all about to see something special.

Official prediction: 200+ innings, 250+ strikeouts, a third less walks, a sub-3.00 ERA, and top 3 in CY voting.

Press on, Rangers fans.

Mike Luna is a Staff Writer for ShutDowninning.com. He can be reached at Mike.Luna@shutdowninning.com or on Twitter @twbbg.
Mike Luna

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