Mar 202012

Yu Darvish flashes improved command in third start

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.

First 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.

Second Inning

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.

Third Inning

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.

Fourth Inning

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

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.

Bottom Line:

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

? Yu Darvish flashes improved command in third startBaseball Do has plenty to get your Yu-mania juices flowing. Follow Timothy on Twitter for all of the latest on the Texas Rangers.

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