After giving up a total of seven runs (six earned) on 17 hits and eight walks over 11 1/3 innings against the Twins and Mariners in his first two major league starts, Yu Darvish had the best outing of his brief career tonight against the powerhouse Tigers. Go figure.
Darvish limited the Tigers to just one run on two hits over 6 1/3 innings as part of a 10-3 win. The only run scored on an RBI ground out by Don Kelly in the bottom of the fourth inning. His command was still a bit shaky at times, as he walked five and struck out five while throwing 70 out of 121 pitches for strikes. Still, he managed to make it through six innings for the first time.
Mike Napoli caught Darvish’s first two major league starts, but it’s worth noting that Yorvit Torrealba was behind the plate tonight. Rangers manager Ron Washington wants to stay away from using one catcher in particular for Darvish’s outings, so they’ll likely continue to alternate in the future.
Darvish now owns a 3.57 ERA and 14/13 K/BB ratio over his first 17 2/3 innings in the big leagues. He’ll have another tough test next week when he faces the Yankees at home.
We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.
As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.
Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.
As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.
While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.
Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.