Yu Darvish picked up his second victory last night, holding the Tigers to one run in 6.1 innings, but it wasn’t especially pretty.
He handed out five walks, needed 121 pitches to record 19 outs, and left with a pair of runners on base before the bullpen bailed him out.
And overall through his first three starts Darvish has been effective without being hugely impressive, going 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA despite nearly as many walks (13) as strikeouts (14) and a total of 32 baserunners in 17.2 innings.
Thanks to the pitch-by-pitch data at Brooks Baseball we can take a deeper look at Darvish’s arsenal so far and his 333 total pitches break down as follows: 156 four-seam fastballs, 99 sinkers, 84 sliders, 60 cureveballs, 54 cutters, and 10 pitches classified as either a changeup or splitter.
Not many pitchers have five different pitches they throw regularly, but that diverse repertoire certainly matches the scouting report on Darvish from Japan. As for how fast he’s throwing them, Darvish has averaged 94.4 miles per hour with his fastball and 93.4 mph with his sinker. His slider clocks in at 83.2 mph and his curveball at 76.6 mph.
He’s gotten hitters to swing at 42.9 percent of his pitches and they’ve made contact 81.8 percent of the time, both of which are worse than the MLB average. That matches what my eyes have told me watching Darvish’s starts, which is that his raw stuff is very good but his command has been much shakier than expected and the hitters’ ability to lay off his numerous off-speed pitches has been surprising as well.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.