Yeah, I went with the cute headline. Sue me.
In signing Yu Darvish to a six-year, $60 million contract, the Rangers committed $111.7 million to the 25-year-old hurler. Whether he’ll stay healthy and justify the expense is anyone’s guess, but given his track record, it was a price worth paying.
My guess is that Darvish becomes far and away the Rangers’ best hurler and the American League Rookie of the Year this season. A Cy Young Award seems unlikely, but it can’t be completely ruled out. My projection for the upcoming Rotoworld draft guide calls for a 15-8 record, a 3.49 ERA and 186 strikeouts in 193 2/3 innings.
Darvish’s first big test will be the adjustment from pitching once a week to once every five or six days. The second will be the Texas heat in the summer. Put him in the NL in a bigger ballpark and I would have projected him for a sub-3.00 ERA this year. Rangers Ballpark, though, is the most hitter friendly in the AL.
I see Darvish getting off to a terrific start, but fading as the year goes on and maybe logging some time on the disabled list with arm fatigue. Darvish was a workhorse in Japan — he completed 10 of his 28 starts and threw 232 innings last season — but this new schedule will take some getting used to. It actually might be for the best if he misses a chunk of July or August; the Rangers should have the depth to cover for him and he’d likely be stronger down the stretch and, hopefully, in the postseason.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.