HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 12: Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers throws in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 12, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
We knew something was up with Yu Darvish over his final few starts of the season. He alluded to it, and it didn't take a baseball expert to see a decline in his ability over the past few starts as his fastball velocity was struggling and he failed to get out of the sixth inning in each one, against Tampa Bay, Houston and Los Angeles.
That stretch followed two straight 1-0 losses Darvish was hit with in losses to Pittsburgh and Oakland. He finished September with a 1-3 record and a 3.34 ERA.
On Wednesday, that problem was revealed as a sciatica issue with the nerve in his lower back that caused numbness in the lower back and in the right buttocks area and leg — not a good thing for a right-handed pitcher that pushes off with that right leg.
The news was first reported by The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday after Rangers manager Ron Washington had confirmed what Darvish had suggested toward the end of the regular season — that the Japanese ace was going through a physical issue.
"I don't think I can even get into that," Washington told reporters on Tuesday. "I'll let you all talk to people above me and the medical staff. But I can say this — he never said it was an issue."
Sounds like a stubborn ace who doesn't want to admit injury, as evidenced by his frustration on Sunday when he was pulled before he'd even reached 90 pitches in favor of Neal Cotts pitching to Josh Hamilton in a key situation.
Darvish finished the season with a 13-9 record, a 2.83 ERA and a MLB-leading 277 strikeouts and will surely finish in the running for the AL Cy Young Award.