The second start of Yu Darvish's major league career looked both similar and completely different than the first one.
It looked the same on the box score, even if Darvish allowed just two runs in 5.2 innings on Saturday after giving up five of them in the same amount of innings his first time around. Darvish walked four batters for the second straight time and he gave up nine hits in a messier performance than a lot of people expected when he arrived in Texas.
Expectations that Darvish would dominate right out of the gate were certainly misguided, but it is a bit distressing to see the high walk total from a pitcher whose command earned so much praise before his arrival on these shores. It feels uncomfortably like what we've seen from Daisuke Matsuzaka, although such comparisons are unfair to Darvish so early in his career.
The different part of the outing came from the way Darvish looked on the mound. In his first start, Darvish's motion brought his arms all the way above his head, where he paused for a beat before throwing the pitch toward the plate. On Saturday, Darvish's hands stopped at his chin and he never used the fuller windup.
Darvish used an interesting analogy to explain the difference in his approach between the two games.
"To me this is not that difficult," Darvish said. "I think of it like a pen that has different ink. You click on one and you get red; click on another and you get black. It's just different clicks."
Not something you're used to seeing from a pitcher after just two starts, but is it reason to be alarmed? All depends on how you look at it.
If you're optimistic about what Darvish is going to do this season, then you could see his willingness to experiment as a good sign about his adaptability. Darvish doesn't know exactly what will work for him in the big leagues, so it makes sense to find out the best way to get hitters out. If he can succeed with a variety of looks, it will also make it harder for hitters to lock in on what Darvish will do.
On the other hand, Darvish's unwillingness to stick to one way of doing things while improving on it could signal a flightiness that isn't particularly appealing from a young pitcher. It's one thing when a wily veteran drops down to throw a pitch as a surprise and quite another when a pitcher comes out with a different look every time he takes the mound.
Having lots of different ink is only a positive if they are all able to write best sellers. If they are just different ways of getting to the same place, how they look doesn't matter all that much.
Darvish has time to figure all of this out, but it wouldn't hurt to see one of those clicks result in a victory.