He’s back (again).
Yu Darvish made his return to the mound for the Rangers on Saturday after his second stint on the disabled list due to shoulder discomfort. It was a sight for sore eyes when talking about a pitching staff that struggled going into the All-Star break.
Darvish made his presence known in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs. After showing a little rust by walking the leadoff hitter, Darvish then struck out All-Stars Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist to end the inning. The Rangers ace struck out five of the first six hitters he faced, and we are talking about a Cubs lineup that was mashing during the first half of the season.
Darvish finished with nine strikeouts overall in just over four innings of work in the 3-1 loss to the Cubs, his first loss of the season. It was the fifth time in club history a Rangers pitcher struck out nine or more while pitching less than five innings. It was also a hard luck loss for Darvish as the Rangers lineup provided no help on offense as the hitting slump continues.
Many may see the boxscore and assume it was just another instance which a Rangers starter couldn’t make it past five innings. Not the case. Darvish was on an 85-90 pitch count no matter what, especially since this was first start back from the DL. He finished at 90. Let’s not forget his first return earlier this season was due to Tommy John surgery that wiped out his 2015 season. No reason to push too much.
But going back to the early innings of work for Darvish, he looked like his old self. He got Bryant looking on a 98 mph fastball that was spotted perfectly. His offspeed stuff left Rizzo and Zobrist swinging at nothing but air. Nobody would have touched that slider to Rizzo for the strikeout.
Now the attention will turn to his next start in Kansas City on Friday. The focus while be how Darvish feels after today and whether his stuff stays sharp, which it will need to be against the defending World Series champion Royals.
Despite the loss, Darvish provided reasons for optimism for the Rangers starting staff and was fun to watch in the process.