2016 X-Factors: Want Yu Back

With a week until Opening Day, we'll take a look at the five most important factors to Rangers' success in 2016, spread out over — you guessed it — five days.

No. 3: Yu Darvish is back, but how good will be?

Conventional thought tells us pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery traditionally take a full season to get back to where they were before.

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That means Martin Perez should be back to the level he was starting to flash in 2013 before his arm gave out. It also means Yu Darvish will be just another pretty good pitcher in 2016 with hope that he'll be back to being a Cy Young candidate in 2017.

But Yu Darvish might not normal, and the Rangers are hoping that's the case.

Since he's been here, and even before he came here, we were told what a physical freak Darvish was, and before the injury, he proved to pretty much be just that. If Darvish can bounce back after a 14-month layoff and be back to where he was — perhaps stronger — the Rangers will be in business.

At this point, it's probably a reasonable expectation Cole Hamels is this team's ace and Darvish will be a strong No. 2 pitcher when he returns before reclaiming ace status in 2017. But what if he flashes that "freak" we've all heard about him and immediately moves his way up to co-ace territory?

That'd be an awesome development for the Rangers.

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