HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02: Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on April 2, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Greg Maddux, who was recently inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame, is the brother of Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, is the special assistant to Rangers GM Jon Daniels and serves as a pitching instructor in spring training, had some pretty big words of praise to heap on Rangers ace Yu Darvish recently.
"The sky is the limit for him," Maddux told ESPN Dallas. "He's got four quality pitches. He's pitched now over here for two years. Hopefully, he's a lot more relaxed and Americanized, or however you want to say it. I think if he continues to be better and wants to be better, there's no telling how well he can do."
Darvish finished second in the AL Cy Young race in 2013 with a 2.83 ERA and a world-leading 277 strikeouts, and established himself as the bona fide ace of the Rangers staff and as one of the true aces in the game.
Greg Maddux, of course, won four straight Cy Young Awards with the Atlanta Braves and is one of the game's finest, truest pitching technicians, and he said Darvish has gotten more comfortable in his own skin since arriving from Japan two years ago and is starting to learn how to better pitch instead of just blow batters away with his vast array of pitches.
"I think you have to figure it out on your own, and I think that's what he's doing and what he'll continue to do," Maddux said. "I can't really sit here and say I helped him. Every pitch he threw, he threw. Every good fastball and good slider he threw last year, he did that by himself. I think he's no different than most pitchers. I think if you can focus on the right things, I think you'll be able to make better pitches more consistently. I think sometimes we get away from that as players, and it's just good to be reminded sometimes on what the right things to concentrate on are."
Darvish will be expected to be one of the league's best aces again in 2014, and the Rangers will desperately need that to lead a staff that will be without projected No. 2 starter Derek Holland for at least the first four months of the season following his microfracture surgery earlier this month.