Yu Darvish Thru 50 Games

Last Thursday night, Yu Darvish started against the Diamondbacks and struck out 14 of them, while walking none in 7 strong, strong innings, earned his 10th win of the season. That was his 50th game as a member of the Texas Rangers.

According to Baseball Reference’s Play Index, there have been 7,951 pitchers ever appeared in a major league game. That includes position players that pitched in blowout games. Among those 7,951 pitchers, 2,559 of them, from Walter Johnson to Ray Harrell, have made it to both 50 appearances and 330 innings pitched.

On Thursday, Darvish became the 2,560th member of the 50/330 club. You can’t pitch many MLB innings if you’re not a good pitcher, or able to stay healthy. So, 1 and a ⅔ seasons after his major league debut, Yu Darvish is already in the better ⅓ side of MLB pitchers of all-time.

But you’d think Darvish is a lot better than the 2,560th best all-time, and he actually is. But how good is he? 300th? 100th? Looking at the numbers in his first 50 games, he’s even better than you think. Let’s take a look at his first 1 and ⅔ years of his career.

Play Index’s game finder only goes back to 1916, so the stats below don’t include years before 1915.

330 innings pitched, 36th most:I’ve already mentioned Darvish has pitched 330 innings in the big leagues. That’s the 36th most spanning pitchers’ first 50 games. He’s got 2 more out than Mark Lemongello, and one less than (technically) former Ranger great Kris Benson. In his first 50 games, Darvish has eaten a lot of innings for the Rangers.

407 strikeouts, 2nd most: Entering Thursday night, Darvish had 393 career strikeouts. In that outing, he added 14 more in the book and past 400 mark. In the 2nd inning, he struck out Jason Kubel for his 398th strikeouts and past fellow Japanese right hander Hideo Nomo. He whiffed Gerardo Parra in the 3rd inning to get north of 400 tied with Mark Prior, became the 3rd pitcher to reach there in the first 50 appearances. He added 7 more K’s in the dominating 7-inning outing and is currently ranked 2nd in the stat. The only guy has more strikeouts than Darvish in the first 50 games is Dwight Gooden (418). The only concern here is, both Gooden and Prior’s career burnt out after their early success. Gooden had gone dancing with cocaine. Prior’s arm fell off after 2 years. But cocaine has no place in today’s baseball and as Peter Elwood wrote here, Darvish is a strong horse. He’s not going to be Mark Prior II.

16 double digit K games, 2nd most: This list is a lot similar to the one I noted above. Gooden has the most 10+ strikeouts games with 20, Darivsh is 2nd with 16, Prior has 14 for the 3rd place. Below them are Nomo and Herb Score tied for 4th with 13 each.

Most 14 or more strikeouts, no walks game in a season, with 3: This is not only for the first 50 games, but for the entire career. In 2013, Darvish has 3 starts where he struck out 14 or more hitters and walked none. 2 other pitchers have had as many such games in a season but no one has ever had 4. The other phenomenons are Roger Clemens in 1997 and Randy Johnson in 2001. Both of them won the Cy Young in the respective years. And considering Darvish has 10-11 starts left this season, he has a chance to pass these Cy Young winners.
Related: there have been 7 games where a pitcher struck out 14 or more hitters. Darvish has 4 of them. The other 3 have been recorded by Anibal Sanchez (April 26), Chris Sale (June 14), and Jose Fernandez (August 2).

4th most 14+ K, 0 walks game of all time: I mentioned that Darvish has 3 such games in 2013. Only 3 other pitchers have 4 or more, over their entire career. Randy Johnson has 8, Roger Clemens has 7, and Pedro Martinez has 5. How ridiculous is this? Big Unit pitched in 22 MLB seasons. The Rocket pitched for 24 years. Pedro pitched for 18 years. All 3 of them are future Hall of Famers. And Darvish hasn’t completed his 2nd season in the bigs.

In some of his games, Yu Darvish has pitched like a Hall of Famer. And it’s hard to say he’s lived up to his upside. Once he figures it out, he’ll be one of the best pitchers in the history of the game, ever. Cheer yourself up, Rangers fans. We’ll have him for the next 3 years, and get to see the monster dominating the whole baseball world.

Kazuto Yamazaki is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning.com. He can be reached on Twitter@LaBlynne or at lonestarfastballer@yahoo.com
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Kazuto Yamazaki
Grew up in Tokyo, Kaz fell in love with the 2004 Rangers that featured Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira, and has been a fan since then. Other than doing baseball-related activity, which consumes most of his time, he enjoys singing and playing the guitar. He also writes for The Dynasty Guru and The Scoop Sports. You can follow Kaz on Twitter @Kazuto_Yamazaki and reach him via email kazuto.yamazaki@shutdowninning.com.

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