When I saw Yu Darvish make his debut in spring training last month I watched a guy who pounded the zone and showed a good 4-5 pitches with insane movement. In his first couple of regular season starts, however, he seemed tentative and nibbling and an altogether different guy.
That changed in a major way against the Yankees last night.
Showing off his full array of stuff and, more importantly, throwing strike after strike, Darvish baffled the Yankees, throwing eight and a third scoreless innings and striking out ten. At least one future Hall of Famer was impressed. Here’s Jeter on Darvish:
“He has a lot of different pitches. We really didn’t know what to expect,” Jeter said. “He had the fastball, two-seamer, cutter, four-seamer, curveball, slider, change-up — he’s got pretty much everything.”
Some believe he had something else working in there too. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus — who has been watching Darvish since before he even faced a batter in spring training — is convinced that he threw a “shutto” pitch, or a reverse slider last night, which the announcers mistook for his four-seam fastball.
Whatever he’s throwing, it’s filthy. And what he did to the Yankees last night was practically obscene.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.