I think I threw too many fastballs. I’m a breaking-ball pitcher. I should have thrown more breaking balls, not just this outing but the last one, too.
It's interesting to see how a short DL stint and an All-Star break to rest up can change things so quickly. Two weeks ago, Yu Darvish was in somewhat of a feud with the media about his pitch selection, insisting that he essentially didn't need to use his fastball like most pitchers. In the end, I'm not so sure he was wrong as much as he also wasn't right. By that, I mean that in his second season in the Major Leagues, it's entirely possible that Darvish is still learning how to adjust to various lineups and tailor his pitch selection to each specific lineup.
If that is indeed the case, then last night's start against the New York Yankees was a great sign for the Rangers, who will need more of the same from Yu Darvish going forward to get where they want to go. Darvish spun 6.1 innings of 2-hit baseball, with the only two hits coming from the bat of Lyle Overbay, with two walks and four strikeouts.
If you're keeping track, that's 75% fastballs thrown by Darvish Monday night. Furthermore, 60 of his 90 pitches were strikes, he induced 12 whiffs (all but one on fastballs), and 44 of his strikes were never put into play.
I don't want to go on to say that Darvish is accepting a role as a power/fastball pitcher, because there will be games where his slider will be his go-to pitch, but it's nonetheless refreshing to see that Darvish was able to put this kind of effort out there and end a losing skid for the Rangers.
There's an argument to be made that Ron Washington actually pulled Darvish too soon with only 90 pitches. At the time, I felt it was a mistake, and if looks could kill, the one Darvish gave to Washington in that moment would have certainly done the trick. In the end, it didn't matter, as Ross, Scheppers, and Nathan were able to close things out and finish off the shutout.
On the season, Yu Darvish is now the holder of a 2.86 ERA, and even more importantly, his xFIP is 2.82, which is good for fourth-best in Major League Baseball. He's still behind Derek Holland where WAR is concerned, but in my mind, I think that's a good thing. A triumvirate of Darvish, Holland, and Garza going forward is something that can be used to benefit a team that, unless it makes a trade for some offensive help, may not always be able to score runs on the same pace we've become accustomed to over the years.
When Darvish was initially placed on the DL, there was some speculation that Darvish had flattened out his release point and was compensating slightly due to fatigue, injury, soreness, or for some other reason. Below are the release point charts from last night and from July 6, his last start before being placed on the DL.
It does seem that in his start last night, the release point was, at the very least, slightly higher for Darvish. Not being a pitching coach or scout, I can't really attest as to how much it affected his performance last night, but it's something to keep an eye on for sure.
The good news is that in his first start since July 6, Yu Darvish threw strikes, got hitters out, and didn't give up any runs. He made sure that even one run would have been enough to earn a win for the Rangers, and anytime your staff ace can do that, it's a great start.
At the risk of coming across as prone to hyperbole, Darvish just might have given the Rangers the momentum they needed. Then again, they could go out and give yet another game away, but for at least a day, the Rangers didn't lose anymore ground to the Oakland A's, and while that may not be as positive as I'd like, the Rangers didn't lose any ground, so it's not negative either.