The Rangers are 8 – 2…if you want to know why…listen to this podcast.
- Early season observations
- Top surprises from the first 10 games
- Jasen’s day job…
- Paying Josh
Jasen also threw down the gauntlet…let us hear from you!
Apr 17 2012
Apr 16 2012
It’s similar to the delight of consuming a delicious chocolate shake—loving it all the way—even down to the torturous final sip, when you know it’s almost gone.
Some might say that Joe Nathan has slipped some form of anti-goodness into our shakes, making that final sip—the ninth inning—bitter; even disgusting at times.
The side effects to Yu Darvish’s two rough starts have been astutely diagnosed as follows: dizziness, then drowsiness, followed by acute nausea and, finally, a full-on, wig-splitting headache.
But hell, he’s only partly to blame, after all he didn’t force me to drink beer by the gallon during his starts…or did he?
Well, just like that syrupy filth that your Mom used to give you when you had a cough, sometimes you’ve got to put up with the bad in order to get to the good.
Rest assured, for the Texas Rangers it’s mainly all good, but let’s shed some light on the bad.
Joe “XXXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXXX” Nathan (nickname withheld…hint: rhymes with ‘cod slam smother tucking’)
0-2, 6.00 ERA, 3 Saves, 1 BS, 8 Ks, 0 BBs, 7 hits, 6 IP
We’ve already established that the Rangers are an impressive 8-2. They could have been 9-1 (maybe even 10-0) had it not been for Mr. Two First Names, and his “amazing” slider that seems to break right into the fat part of the opposition’s bats.
Granted, the one or two-win differential doesn’t matter a whole lot, at least not right now. Besides, if the Angels continue to play as they have, we might not have as close a stretch run as originally thought.
Regardless, Nathan has been pretty bad. It’s especially difficult to witness since his stuff seems to be fine, and he ‘s not walking anybody. Literally, he has yet to surrender a free pass.
Here’s hoping last night’s save in Minnesota is a sign of what is to come. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve already come to grips with Wednesday’s blown-save shellacking. As long as Nathan can stay in a groove, and miss some more bats, he should be fine.
Watching Joe Nathan close games gives me a whole new perspective on former closer, Neftali Feliz. It’s similar to watching Michael Young toil around third base when you’re used to watching Adrian Beltre.
1-0, 4.76 ERA, IP: 11.1, Hits: 17, BBs: 8, Ks: 9
Sure, I knew (as we all did) that Darvish wasn’t going to be as good as Justin Verlander immediately. Hell, Justin Verlander wasn’t even Justin Verlander until he had a few starts under his belt.
But, Darvish, in his first two starts has looked more like a young A.J. Burnett.
Ouch. But it’s far too early to close the book on Darvish. Remember, he’s only had two starts, and his second one was much better than his first. He’s also routinely praised for his work ethic, is only 25-years-old and teachable.
And, let’s not forget, that during his most recent start against the Twins, he had to deal with Michael Young playing third base. A folding chair with a Rangers hat would stop more ground balls.
Check out this quote from an unnamed scout on Darvish that appeared in one of Ken Rosenthal’s articles today:
“He’s going to give up a ton of hits,” the scout said. “A lot of his fastballs are very straight. The guy is supposed to throw hard. But he basically pitched at 89 to 92, touching 93-94. That’s pretty good in Japan. It’s not very good here.”
“He has a good cutter, a good curveball. But when he gets in trouble, he turns into a breaking-ball guy – nibble, nibble, he won’t let it go. He reminded me of Dice-K.”
I’m not even a big sabermetrics guy, and this idiotic quote makes me want to agree with the notion that scouts are a bunch of numbskulls.
To me the most angering thing about this quote is that it agrees with so much of the other negative crap that seems to assume that Darvish is a finished product, incapable of adjustment.
Dude, it’s not like we bought a Betamax cassette and we only have a VHS player to watch it on.
Darvish is going to be fine. He’s already good enough to be the Rangers’ number four starter, and he’ll only get better.
Now, as for Joe Nathan…well, the Rangers have plenty of other ninth-inning options should the bed-wetting continue
Apr 09 2012
For the last 2-3 years when writers/fans praise Jon Daniels for the quality bounty he got in return for Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves, he isn’t mentioned first…or even second.
When (most of) you think of the breakout left-handed starter on the Texas Rangers, he’s not the first name that comes to mind.
Last night…he was brilliant, and we all took notice.
Matt Harrison was dominant throughout Spring Training, and he brought that same command and presence into the regular season last night in front of 45,368 cheering Rangers fans and possibly more importantly, in front of baseball fans worldwide on the nationally televised ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game. Harrison pitched six scoreless frames against the Chicago White Sox to give the Rangers the 2-1 series win.
“I was able to throw my offspeed pitches for strikes early in the game,” Harrison said. “It gave them something to swing at besides my fastball. They fouled a lot of pitches off early, but I just kept pounding the strike zone and making them put the ball in play.”
“Harrison pitched great,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “This is one of those where you tip your hat to him.”
“Outstanding,” manager Ron Washington said. “Harrison had a good sinker working, he was moving the ball up and down, in and out, good breaking ball. Early in the game they fouled off so many pitches it put him in a bad way at the end, but he gave us what we needed tonight.”
Apr 03 2012
We recorded our 2012 Season Preview podcast last night and will have it up on the site later today.
This builds on yesterday’s prediction of Ian Kinsler winning the 2012 AL MVP. As I wrote yesterday, I think one of the keys for Kinsler is going to be the improvement of Andrus’ offensive performance in 2012 which would help provide Kinsler with more line-up protection – aka, can’t pitch around Kinsler if Elvis is hitting the ball well. Elvis worked to build his upper body and core strength during the off-season and that, along with his experience, athleticism and advancing maturity and discipline a the plate are going to make him a threat in the 2-hole for the Rangers all season.
The best part about this prediction is that my fellow Rangers fans can help me make it come true by voting for Elvis when the voting commences this season. No doubt the Yankees and Indians fans will vote in droves to try to get their short stop the starting role, but Elvis will prevail…and it won’t be because Rangers fans have stuffed the ballot boxes because Elvis is simply a Ranger. It will be because Elvis has deserved and proven he is the top player at his position.
Nolan Ryan spoke with media yesterday before the Rangers and the AAA Round Rock Express played. Ryan addressed a number of hot topics including the Angels, Josh Hamilton and Yu Darvish.
“The Angels have stepped up and helped themselves,” Ryan said. “It’s going to be a tough division for us. They are very competitive, and it will come down to who stays healthiest. They have real strong pitching, so we know we have our work cut out for us. It should make it interesting. It should make it a good rivalry. I’m looking forward to it. I still think we have the best ballclub.”
When asked if the Rangers-Angels rivalry compares to the Red Sox-Yankees, Ryan said “Are we the West Coast version of it? I don’t know. I don’t think a lot about it. Obviously, the fact that we’ve won the division the last two years and they felt like they had a lock on that. [Angels owner] Arte [Moreno] stepped up and tried to do something about it. It will be good for our division and baseball, and it’s going to stimulate more interest, obviously, with Pujols and C.J. over there.”
“[Center field is] where he wants to be,” Ryan said about Josh Hamilton. “It’s where he is happiest. It’s where his focus is. He’ll be fine there.”
“He has a good feel for pitching,” Ryan said about Yu Darvish. “He tried to make some adjustments. Each start he had he worked on things. I saw improvement. I thought that was a positive. We don’t have any numbers we’re putting with him. We think he’ll pitch in the rotation and he should pitch a lot of innings. I think he’s at the point in his career where he’s accustomed to throwing 200-plus innings. Somewhere in that neighborhood, I think, would be the expectations.”
“I’m ready to go for sure, despite the home runs,” Holland said. “I thought everything was good. I left a couple of pitches up for strikes. That’s part of getting ready for the season.”
Mar 30 2012
If you didn’t catch it on Twitter last night, we are giving away a pair of tickets to see the Mariners and Rangers on Wednesday, April 11. To be eligible for the drawing, all you have to do is purchase your tickets for the Baseball Do Field Trip prior to midnight tonight. We’ll announce the winner over the weekend.
“I think I have really been consistent this spring pounding the strike zone and getting ahead of hitters,” Harrison said. “A lot of it comes from last year. The games I was successful were the ones that I was aggressive and went right after hitters. I brought that mentality into Spring Training and it has paid off.”
“He’s my veteran,” Washington said. “He’s the guy who is dependable. You know what you’re going to get from him. He’s going to battle and he’s my most experienced pitcher.”
Have a good weekend!
Mar 26 2012
OK, so our balls are neither fast or in the morning today…Jasen and I both have some shoulder stiffness, so today’s lateness and brevity are both just precautionary.
Yu Darvish had a good outing yesterday in a minor league intrasquad game. He threw 85 pitches over five innings, giving up four runs to a team consisting of some of the top Rangers prospects – Leonys Martin, Mike Olt, Engel Beltre, etc. He gave up six hits and two walks, while striking out 11.
“I gave up four runs, but I was not unhappy at all with my outing,” Darvish said afterwards. “Overall, I felt very good. I thought my pitches were good, but I kind of backed up the slider a couple of times … little by little, it’s coming.”
Pitching coach Mike Maddux was pleased with the improvement that he saw from Yu.
“I thought he looked good,” Maddux said. “He’s improved each time out. His velocity was there and he spun a few [curves]. I thought his stuff was good. He feels good physically, he said he could go nine innings. That’s a good sign.”
Darvish will start again on Friday against Colorado and is scheduled to pitch six innings and around 100 pitches.
Jennifer and Megan from www.RangersTalkers.com will be joining us tonight on the podcast to talk about Robbie Ross, the Rangers situation in center field, Tailgating and Ballpark food!
Mar 21 2012
Mar 20 2012
For the third installment of Yu Darvish Theater Yu got to do his thing at his “home” ballpark in Surprise, Arizona. The Yu also gave us a glance at his windup.
It looked wonderful!
Plus, it was a welcome sight since starters usually only throw from the stretch when runners are on base, and (God willing) Darvish will occasionally pitch with no one on.
As has been true in every one of his starts thus far, Darvish has flashed the brilliance that comes with a free agent signing of his caliber. He threw 70 pitches, with first-pitch strikes to eight of the sixteen Brewers he faced.
Overall, Darvish had much better command than he had shown in his previous start against the Indians last week. Impressively, Darvish’s slider—once again—showed excellent bite and movement and he commanded it well.
Here’s a breakdown of his start from inning to fantastic inning.
The Brewers were retired 1-2-3. This is of special note since it was Rickie Weeks, Nyjer Morgan, and reigning NL MVP—and testosterone aficionado—Ryan Braun that Darvish dispatched of.
Darvish punched out Weeks with his infamous slider, retired Morgan on a groundball and induced Braun to pop out weekly to second basemen Ian Kinsler.
“Tony Plush”—Morgan’s alter ego, created solely for the purpose of PR/interviews when he does/says something incredibly stupid—had no comment. But I’m sure that Morgan still managed to do or say something stupid at some point.
Travis Ishikawa worked a six-pitch walk to lead things off for the Brew Crew. Darvish used his “slower” slider—that works like a slurve—to get Alex Gonzalez to fly out to centerfield for the first out of the second.
Darvish then struck out backup catcher Kottaras with a nasty slider and quickly had two outs in the frame.
Yu labored a little to get the third out.
On a 2-1 count, Darvish lost the handle on a slider and hit Jonathan Lucroy to put two men on base. Former Japanese League counterpart Norichika Aoki—who would go 3-3 with 3 RBI for the game—managed an RBI single to cut the Rangers lead in half to 2-1.
Darvish recovered well and struck out Cesar Izturis on three pitches to end the inning and the Brewers threat.
The third inning was eerily similar to the first inning for Darvish. He retired the same batters—Weeks, Morgan and Braun—in the same manner…strikeout, groundout and fly out.
The Rangers scratched out another run in the bottom of the third, thus Darvish once again had a two-run lead with which to work.
Yu walked leadoff man Travis Ishikawa. Darvish retired A. Gonzalez on a groundout and then walked George Kottaras.
Lucroy—who Darvish had plucked in the second inning—came up with a robust spring batting average near .500. But, as has been his modus operandi all spring, Darvish was able to get the one key pitch when he needed it most—this time it was a cutter that Lucroy rolled over to start a 5-4-3 twin killing that successfully ended Darvish’s final inning of work.
All in all, it was a solid outing for Darvish. His line looked like this:
4 IP, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 4 GOs, 4 FOs, 2 DPs, 1 ER 1 Hit
4 IP, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 4 GOs, 4 FOs, 2 DPs, 1 ER 1 Hit
Sure, we’d all like to see Darvish walk fewer batters. This is when it is time for the obligatory reminder that, hey, this is just spring training. Dude! Relax, you’re killing my buzz! Spring is the time when pitchers (even highly-touted Japanese ones named Yu Darvish) amp up their velocity and improve things such as command, location, etc.
Darvish had the most strikeouts (4), the fewest hits allowed (1) of the spring. And he accomplished these fine things while pitching from the windup…after his worst start as a Ranger…
Works for me.
Yu Darvish Theater will be on hiatus for this weekend’s series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It’s nothing personal; it’s just that, frankly, the Angels don’t deserve to witness the greatness of the Yu just yet. That, and the fact that Darvish doesn’t want C.J. Wilson to tweet his cell phone number to everyone in America.
Thirsting for more Yu Darvish
? Baseball Do has plenty to get your Yu-mania juices flowing. Follow Timothy on Twitter for all of the latest on the Texas Rangers.
Mar 20 2012
Mar 19 2012
The Rangers fell to the Cubs yesterday in a split-squad Spring Training game, but the real story was the performance of Matt Harrison, who in five innings allowed one hit and one run with a walk and five strikeouts.
Darvish Day III:
St. Patrick’s Day Rangers Tickets Giveaway Winner