Hearts dropped and the gag reflexes across Rangers nation were alive and well on Wednesday afternoon when it was announced ace Yu Darvish was heading to the disabled list with elbow inflammation.
Usually, the first conclusion drawn from such a diagnosis is Tommy John surgery, the same fate that met Neftali Feliz and Martin Perez recently for the Rangers. By all accounts and from all we heard on Wednesday, that's not a concern for Darvish, who underwent an MRI on Thursday. The results are still unknown, but Darvish and general manager Jon Daniels both said Darvish could have pitched in Thursday's series finale had more been on the line.
Clearly, nothing matters this season in terms of wins and losses, so it makes sense for Darvish to take a break and hopefully just miss a couple of starts.
As long as there is no surgery or serious injury involved, this is a good thing for Darvish and especially for the Rangers.
Any less wear and tear on a prized arm like Darvish's is a positive, and with the season already a lost cause, is there really a point in pushing Darvish at all beyond a good comfort level? The answer is an emphatic no.
More importantly for the Rangers from a selfish standpoint is the fact that Darvish's running in the AL Cy Young balloting is likely taking a hit after his ERA climbed above 3.00 following his bad start over the weekend in Houston.
Remember, Darvish's contract says the 2017 season would be a player option that Darvish could opt out of if he finishes at certain spots in the Cy Young voting. If he wins one between now and then, it's a player option. If he has two finishes of second through fourth place through 2016, it's the same thing.
Darvish finished second in 2013, meaning he has to get two second-fourth finishes between this year and 2016. The more he stumbles and the more starts he misses, he's unlikely to finish in the top four this year with guys like Jon Lester, Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale, just to name a few, pitching better than him this year.
Make no mistake, Darvish is one of the top hurlers in baseball and the Rangers are very fortunate to have him. But in this lost season, it might selfishly help the Rangers out if he does take a bit of a tumble and finishes outside the top four in the Cy Young voting this season.