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.
In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.
Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.
In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.
In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.
The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.
Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.
“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”
Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.
MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.
It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.