The Night Eric Nadel Was Wrong

Darvish
“Breaking ball….STRIKE THREE CALL!…..THE RANGERS ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!!! – Eric Nadel’s final call in 2010 ALCS Game 6

Nadel is an iconic figure within the Texas Rangers’ organization as he should be. He has provided all of us with wonderful memories, and many of us grew up listening to his voice as we heard the great game being carried on WBAP, KRLD and now KESN. Eric was even gracious enough last May to grant SDI’s Chris Kautz an interview. All of these things and many more are why writing this article is a difficult task (not to mention he is very much entitled to his opinion), but at the end of the day, not only is Yu Darvish the ace of this staff, he is an ace in every since of the word.

Saturday night, after Yu Darvish gave up a game-tying two-run homerun to Adam Dunn, Nadel called Darvish the “supposed” ace of the Rangers. Subsequently, Twitter blew up immediately after. Darvish only leads the staff in the following stats: ERA, WHIP, SO/9, SO/BB, ERA+ and rWAR just to name a few categories. Derek Holland is great, but he hasn’t been the ace of this staff.

After the game, Nadel took to Twitter to answer his many critics. Here are some of his comments:

“…he has been very disappointing in close games. Shows no signs of having killer instinct an ace needs”

Texas is 4-6 in one-run games this season with Yu on the mound. In those games, the opponent has averaged 3.5 runs per game. Yu has only given up 23 of those runs (22 earned). As for the killer instinct, the same was said for Dirk Nowitzki for years.

“Yu is constantly allowing runs after we score and with a small lead or game tied. Some things don’t show up in the stats”

When Yu has the lead, opponents have a slash line of .173/.232/.359. When the game is tied, they are hitting .228/.310/.349. Yu is at his best with runners in scoring position and two out (.140/.210/.211), but he lacks “killer instinct.”

“How bout shutting the other team down after we score. 3 times in last two games. Would Jack Morris have won?”

I don’t know exactly why Jack Morris is involved in a Yu Darvish conversation other than the fact that they are both pitchers. As to the statement “would Jack Morris have won,” well it is easy to argue that the team’s win/loss record is the more important, but Jack Morris did have a .557 win percentage compared to Yu’s .667. For a more telling stat, in high leverage situations, Darvish hold’s the opposition to a .200/.271/.333 while Morris’ line was .259/.310/.385.

“The big winners don’t give leads back”

For the record on Saturday night, Yu didn’t give the “lead back” as Chicago never had the lead to begin with, nor did he in his last start against Seattle or Houston the time before.

“ERA is most important but I have seen no stat that shows WHEN runs are allowed”

Most of you know by now the downside to relying on ERA, but here is one article that looks at it. SDI’s own Patrick Despain took a look at this stat when he was discussing ERA+ and OPS+.

“Price,Felix,Scherzer r aces now. Verlander,CC,,Pettite,Weaver were aces before How u pitch with a lead is key..”

“I think every team has an ace,” said one American League Scouting Director. “There is someone on the staff who is a leader both on and off the field, but I don’t think ace necessarily equates to No. 1 starter.”

Everyone has their definition of what an “ace” is. Strictly speaking, an ace is someone who excels at a particular sport or activity. According to Nadel, ERA is the most important stat and Darvish ranks third in the AL only behind Anibal Sanchez and Felix Hernandez.

“They have to contribute to winning games every fifth day, to shutting down lineups every fifth day,” another AL executive said. “To be an ace, and sustain that title, it’s about the stuff to dominate and overmatch opponents,” he continued. “I’m talking about 7s and 8s on the scouting report [referring to the 2-to-8 or 20-to-80 scouting scale].”

Yu has 25 starts this season, two behind Felix and one behind Scherzer. As for dominating stuff; Darvish leads the entire free world in missing opponents’ bats with 225 Ks.

Source for ace quotes is this article.

“He still is not a winner.”

Darvish is seventh in the AL in wins and has a .706 winning percentage this season though this will be one of the few times you will ever catch me quoting a pitcher’s win/loss record.

“He pitched just OK in the wild card game. Just ok.”

6.2 IP, five hits, three runs, two earned and seven strikeouts.

“My point: the stats do not show the close games he hasn’t won, leads he has given up, & the #9 hitters who hit him.”

We’ve addressed the first two statements in this quote, but let’s look at the last one. No. 9 hitters are hitting at a .197/.246/.246 clip against Yu this season. His .492 OPS against is lower than Felix’s (.516), Price’s (.688) and slightly higher than Scherzer’s (.487).

At the end of the day, this mindset of Nadel’s can be linked to Yu’s first start this season when he was on his way to a perfect game before Astros’ No. 9 hitter Marwin Gonzalez hit a single up the middle. Nadel’s call when it happened…

“I’ll tell you, partner, I’m stunned. I really am.”

After last night Eric, so am I.

Eddie Middlebrook is the co-host of “Chin Music” and VP of Media for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Eddie.Middlebrook@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @emiddlebrook
Eddie Middlebrook
Eddie Middlebrook is Senior Writer for @ballparkbanter9 and @shutdowninning. Formerly with @wfaasports and @FoxSportsSW. @IBWAA member. Eddie can be found on Twitter @emiddlebrook.

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