Yu Darvish turns 28 years old on Saturday, and as a birthday present to himself, he should just put his feet up, relax and call it a year.
The Texas Rangers pitcher, who's one of the few bona fide aces in baseball, said he could still be pitching if the Rangers were in a pennant race, was put on the disabled list Wednesday with elbow inflammation that an MRI showed was nothing serious and had no ligament damage.
So Darvish could come back after missing two starts, right? Possibly, but why?
The Rangers, at this point, are the leading candidate to "earn" the top pick in the MLB draft next summer, so why push the issue? If Darvish sits the rest of the year, they're basically assured of that distinction with the plan of being a contender again in 2015 when everyone should be healthy. The Rangers lead baseball in players used, pitchers used and DL moves this season, and now Darvish is on it for the second time this season after he began the year on the DL with neck stiffness.
As a guy with a history of cratering down the stretch and openly voicing his support of a six-man rotation — that will never happen, and shouldn't — Darvish could use the rest. Sure, he can still throw on the side in bullpen sessions and even throw a simulated game here and there, but there's no reason for Darvish to pitch anymore in 2014.
Plus, from a Rangers perspective, if he's shut down, it would make it less likely he's able to opt out of the 2017 season — the final year of his contract for which he has a player option that vests if he finishes in the top four of the AL Cy Young three times in the next four years, including this one. That would mean he'd either have to finish in the top four over the next three seasons or win a Cy Young in that time. If he does, great. If he doesn't, the Rangers have him under contract for another season.
But really, it makes sense for both parties if he's shut down for the remainder of the year.
So here you go, Rangers fans. Take a look at what should be Darvish's final 2014 statistics: 10-7 record, 3.06 ERA, 182 strikeouts, 49 walks.
See ya next year, birthday boy.