ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 09: Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers
Yu Darvish made his fifth start of the season on Monday night in Toronto, the fifth start of his Major League Baseball career. And although he didn't hold his opponent scoreless or strike out 10 batters like he did against the vaunted New York Yankees lineup last week, he was pretty darn good against the Blue Jays, giving up four hits over seven innings with one run and improving to 4-0 on the season.
Darvish's ERA dipped to 2.18 following his nine-strikeout performance as he had Toronto hitters looking clueless for much of the night. He pitched the entire game out of the stretch, never going from the wind-up. He never threw a change-up, as his slowest pitches were in the low 80s. None of those wicked 69 mph curveballs either.
Darvish is so tough for opponents to figure out. Yeah, he's proven the seven pitches legend was definitely true, but he might go two starts without throwing his wicked curve, then rely on it in the next start. He keeps opposing hitters off-balance as good as anyone in the league. Of course, it helps that he's still facing teams for the first time and there's no real book on him. That will come, but Darvish's variation and vast arsenal will keep him successful down the road.
He also had his best night so far of throwing first-pitch strikes, attacking the zone with great proficiency. He threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of the 27 batters he faced, or 74 percent of the time, compared to 64 percent in his masterpiece win over the Yankees last week.
When a guy like Yu, with his kind of arsenal, gets up in the count, it puts an unbelievable amount of pressure on hitters, even of the big-league variety. In his first few starts, his control was an issue. In his last two, he has 19 strikeouts and four walks.
Look out, rest of baseball. Yu is here.