Yu Darvish threw 130 pitches, a career-high (at least stateside), and worked eight innings on Thursday night in the Texas Rangers' win over the Detroit Tigers and their ace, Justin Verlander.
Sounds like a pretty heroic, ace-like performance from the Rangers' emerging ace, huh?
Well, not exactly. Darvish gave up four runs, but got 10 runs of support from his offense and was at 104 pitches when he closed out the sixth inning, when everyone in the park thought Darvish's night was finished.
Then, he came back out for the seventh. Then, he came back out for the eighth. It was about that time when the record scratch went off in the ballpark. Say what?
Not really sure what Rangers manager Ron Washington was thinking by leaving Darvish in for eight innings of work with a six-run cushion and letting him throw 130 pitches in a game in mid-May. Over his last three starts now, Darvish has averaged 120 pitches per start.
Is Darvish your ordinary star pitcher? It's hard to say yet, but it's nice to think not, and he very well could be extraordinary. But what good does it serve Darvish or the Rangers to leave him in a game that's well in hand, in May?
There are situations in which guys like Darvish are expected to throw 130 pitches and last eight innings, but Thursday night wasn't one of those. Those situations are reserved for September or October, or heck, even May or June in a big game that's close. Darvish had one labored inning, the third, and cruised pretty nicely otherwise. In that eighth inning, he was touching the mid-90s with his fastball and looked fine.
Chances are, Darvish's arm isn't going to be ruined by Thursday's start, but there was no need in Washington even leaving that possibility open.
The only logical reason for what Washington did on Thursday has to be the fact that the Rangers are starting Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm and Josh Lindblom in three of the next four games with Grimm and Tepesch going up against the offensive juggernaut that is the Tigers. Washington might have wanted to conserve his bullpen for the coming days thinking they might be under fire, but still, it's May. Not September. And there are guys that aren't part of the winning bullpen who could've eaten up an inning or two on Thursday, with Derek Lowe coming immediately to mind.
Thursday's turn of events just didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense, and had a lot of people in Rangers Ballpark scratching their heads.