ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 15: Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers reacts to closing out the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on June 15, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
On Wednesday night, Texas Rangers fans saw what they were missing out on this year as C.J. Wilson messed the bed in a big game once again — this time for the other team.
On Thursday night, those same fans got to see what they traded for Wilson's late-season swoons, and what we saw was good.
Yu Darvish had looked great over his last five starts and was in line, with another strong outing against a good, desperate lineup, to lock up the No. 1 spot in the Rangers' postseason pitching rotation. He did just that. Darvish took a one-hitter into the fifth inning, went eight innings in the game, giving up one run with nine strikeouts and one walk and picked up the victory thanks to Adrian Beltre's heroics.
Darvish had everything working on Thursday night, from his mid-90s inside heater to his 63 mph curveball that made numerous Angels hitters, most notably Kendrys Morales, look downright silly. The pitch mixture was superb and he relied quite a bit on that slow-poke pitch that we hadn't seen in a while.
Darvish's ability to miss bats made him a strong candidate to be the club's No. 1 in the postseason ahead of Matt Harrison, but his recent trend of not allowing free passes has solidified that spot. Since an Aug. 12 outing against Detroit in which he gave up five walks in a win, Darvish has had unbelievable control.
In those six outings since, Darvish has 52 strikeouts and nine walks, with no more than two walks in a single game and no less than six strikeouts (reaching 10 Ks twice). It might not be prudent to call Darvish a bona fide ace yet, up there with the likes of CC Sabathia or Justin Verlander, but Darvish is treading in that territory. And he's only 25 years old in his first year pitching in the majors.
Looks like Jon Daniels & Co. might have known what they were doing this winter, after all.