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.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Mariners are among the teams that have contacted the Reds about outfielder Jay Bruce. The Mariners enter play Wednesday 51-48, six games out of first place in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot. Adding an impact bat like Bruce could help in their effort to reach the postseason.
Norichika Aoki and Seth Smith have handled the bulk of the playing time in left field. While Smith has hit well, Aoki has not. Bruce came into Wednesday’s game against the Giants batting .271/.324/.567 with 24 home runs and a league-best 78 RBI.
Bruce can become a free agent after the season if his controlling team declines his $13 million club option for the 2017 season by paying him a $1 million buyout. If he’s traded mid-season, his new team won’t be able to make him a qualifying offer, so the club option may be more enticing than it looks at first glance.
A third-inning two-run home run by Adam Rosales off of R.A. Dickey put the Padres up 2-0, but it also helped the Padres tie a National League record. The Padres have homered in 25 consecutive games, matching the 1998 Braves, the 1994 Tigers, and the 1941 Yankees. The major league record is 27, set by the 2002 Rangers.
The Padres hit three in total on Wednesday in an 8-4 victory against the Blue Jays. One of those dingers was an eighth-inning solo shot by rookie Alex Dickerson, who has now homered in four consecutive games himself. The one he hit on Monday is worth watching, as it got into the upper deck at the Rogers Centre.
As the Padres recently traded Melvin Upton, Jr. to the Jays, Dickerson is likely going to see regular playing time. That’s especially true if he keeps hitting like this.