Yu Darvish made strides on Thursday night, as my esteemed colleague Josh Alper pointed out.
He went 6 1/3 innings against one of the best lineups in all of baseball, right up there with the New York Yankees and your Texas Rangers, and allowed just two hits while throwing 120 pitches. It was without a doubt his best outing just three starts into his Rangers career.
But there's still a lot of work to be done by the 25-year-old Japanese sensation. The Rangers made no bones about it when they forked over in excess of $100 million total to sign him, they were signing the ace of their pitching staff.
Now, to be fair, it would've been unrealistic for people to expect him to step right in and dominate, but his first two outings left a lot to be desired. So while Thursday's was much better, there was still a lot to work on for the youngster.
Darvish walked five batters, including three to lead off innings — a huge no-no in the bigs, especially for an ace. Aces also don't throw 120 pitches and not get through the seventh inning. You throw 120 pitches, and you need to be through at least seven or eight innings, if not pitching a complete game.
A strikeout pitcher like Darvish is going to throw a lot of pitches, but he's wasting a lot on walks. He now has 13 walks on the season and at least four in all three of his starts. His ERA took a tumble down to 3.57 after Thursday night's game, but his WHIP is still high at 1.81. He has 14 strikeouts and the 13 walks and you'd like to see that ratio go much more in favor of the K.
So yeah, Darvish showed a lot on Thursday, but there's still some more to show before he'll be considered a candidate to be an ace for the staff, something that is now falling on Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis.