How good will Yu Darvish be?

3 Feb

Yu Darvish is carrying over $100 million of expectations on his arm to deliver for the Rangers, but without having thrown a single pitch for an MLB organization yet the lingering question is how good will he be? Is he going to be more Dice-k or Nomo his first year out? Will he be a whole different beast – and beast is what Texas is paying for – make no mistakes about that,.

Those who are evaluating with their heart see 20 wins, 300 strikeouts and a 2.25 range ERA. Darvish has tools to do that according to some scouts – he has to have SOMETHING good going on to land the deal he did and the record setting posting fee, but that good? Another set of scouts see him being better than Nomo was early on, but certainly not a Cy Young winning range of pitcher. What is reasonable to expect?

1. Early success – No one has a sufficient range of video and personal contact with Darvish yet to build a strategy for facing him. Like many NPL imports, he has a decided advantage there. Unlike many others, he has better command of his breaking stuff and a devastating fastball by not just NPL standards but MLB standards. 20 wins out of the gate? nah, but a 16 win freshman season is totally reasonable. he will feast on the weak teams, but according to one former NPL manager turned scout, Darvish has never really faced a steady diet of deep lineups. Teams like Anaheim, Boston and New York might present problems for him where strings of 4 hitters in a row can take him deep.

2. Darvish has great control and a filthy fastball, but he nibbles corners for strikeouts too often. Call it the Dice-K disease. If Darvish starts relying on his fastball as a put away pitch more, he can rack up 250 K’s. It is that good. The problem will be getting him to believe that and throw it more often rather than trying to get better hitters than he has ever faced on a daily basis to chase breaking balls 3 inches off the plate.

3. ERA will be good – but more like a 3.50 good. Darvish is coming from a league where teams play not to lose rather than to win. A tie is an outcome in the NPL and games are only 9 innings regardless of score. It does change the way pitchers and hitters approach the game. He is used to seeing teams play for one run at a time station to station style. Seeing teams that can, and do, play for big innings will be new. He will get torched on this for a little while until he adjusts to the different mindset the MLB game has vs the NPL.

Darvish will not be a bust – not like some are predicting, but he also isn’t the second coming of Nolan Ryan even if he looks that way until June. Posting fee aside, texas got a bargain. More so than any NPL imported pitcher, Darvish has the ability to be an MLB Ace. The only question is if he will reach that potential before his deal with Texas is up.


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