ESPN’s Calvin Watkins doubles down on his Yu Darvish nonsense. Also fails to understand how the DL works.

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Last week ESPNDallas.com’s Calvin Watkins — who is primarily a football writer — slammed Yu Darvish for not pitching through elbow pain. As if that’s a thing any sensible baseball analyst would ever recommend in this day and age given the prevalence of Tommy John surgeries, given the value of a top-flight pitcher on a team-friendly contract and given the fact that the Rangers’ season has effectively been over since before Memorial Day.

Yesterday it was reported that the Rangers were probably going to shut Darvish down for the season. A move suggesting that maybe — just maybe — Darvish isn’t being soft or whatever he’s accused of being. A move which suggests that Watkins’ analysis of the situation from last week was off-base.

Watkins doesn’t seem to care. Indeed, he’s doubling down on his dissing of Darvish, once again citing the bumps and bruises of other players and saying that it appeared as though Darvish was “quitting on his team.” But that’s not the best part.

Check this stuff out. It would appear that the man the biggest sports news and information organization on the planet has covering the Major League Baseball team in one of the largest cities in America doesn’t know how the disabled list works:

Darvish could have handled things differently regarding his stint on the disabled list.

Instead of electing to go on the DL, he probably should have asked for some rest — because the Rangers would have given it to him. General manager Jon Daniels made the correct call in sitting Darvish, but perhaps the ace should have delayed the DL process a little bit.

Darvish most likely would miss two to three starts before being asked to do anything. If he was still having issues, then he would have been placed on the DL.

Darvish going on the shelf without waiting to see how he felt after a little time off raises some questions and some perception issues . . . I just wish Darvish had waited a little while before going on the DL, because you don’t want to come across as quitting on your team.

Based on that, here are the things Watkins apparently believes or misunderstands:

  • He is unaware that Darvish has been on the disabled list for some time already.
  • He believes that yesterday’s comments from Jon Daniels did something official regarding Darvish’s status as opposed to merely stating that the team does not believe Darvish will be able to pitch this year.
  • It appears that Watkins thinks that players just choose when to go on the DL as opposed to having their team put them on it.
  • It appears as if he thinks that the disabled list — like the NFL’s injured reserve list — is a season-long thing, from which no one can return once one is placed on it as opposed to a temporary thing. A temporary thing which allows for players having their time on it calculated retroactively to their last appearance. In Darvish’s case, back to August 9, when he last pitched.

Maybe some of you agree with Watkins’ “suck it up, dude!” attitude about Darvish and his injuries. I think you’re wrong if you think that way, but you are entitled to your opinion. But I’m not sure how anyone can take a thing this guy says about baseball seriously when he quite literally does not know what on Earth he is talking about when it comes to baseball.

We miss you, Richard Durrett. We miss you very badly.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.