Darvish accepts the mantle as the Rangers’ no. 1 starter, and his signing represents not only a coup for Texas, but for major league baseball. Darvish is the biggest baseball star in Japan, and one of the nation’s biggest celebrities, period; his Q ratings are more comparable to the people who grace the cover of Us Weekly than a mere athletic superstar. [...]
In the long term, though, for the Rangers to get a solid return on their investment, they’ll need Darvish to stay healthy and effective for the entirety of the contract. He certainly has both the skills and pedigree needed to be an ace starter in the major leagues. For the money the Rangers have spent on him, he better be.
Sooner or later, it may be wise to issue a disclaimer on Nolan Writin’, stating something along the lines of: This is a Texas Rangers blog, yes, but be prepared for, at the minimum, an article a week dedicated to the immaculate Yu Darvish, son of the gods, key to any fathomable lock, Master of all domains.
And so on and so forth.
If you own any of the following: (a) the Internet, (b) a television, (c) perhaps a flat-screen television that includes ESPN, MLB Network, or some combination of both, or (d) a mobile device, then you are probably already familiar with Yu Darvish’s 2nd almost-historical start of the year in Houston on Monday afternoon.
You’ve probably, too, seen the pitch that may or may not have cost Darvish a perfect game, delivered to us by only our most favorite-ist umpire ever, the dear Ron Kulpa.
But let’s not delve in the hypothetical world of “What if Yu Darvish had thrown a perfect game?” because, in all seriousness, the fact that he failed for the 2nd time to execute a perfect game is far less important — or relevant — than the overwhelming dominance he displayed in Houston on Monday.
In 8.0 innings, Yu set 15 Astros down on strikes — a new career high — allowing his only run on his only hit, a one-out solo HR off the bat of Carlos Corporan in the bottom of the 8th.
By virtue of his 15 Ks, Darvish is now the first pitcher to reach the 200 strikeout plateau in 2013, and at 207 leads the next-best total by a robust sum of 29.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, Yu is one of three pitchers in the live ball era to record 4 different starts of 14 Ks with 1 or fewer walks in the same season. The other two are Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson.
To put into perspective just how challenging it is to face Darvish, consider that he’s one of only two pitchers in MLB to average double-digits in strikeouts per 9 innings (12.12 K/9); the next-best is Matt Harvey of the Mets — considered a top-2 National League Cy Young Award candidate — with over 2 strikeouts less per 9 frames (10.03 K/9).
Yu Darvish’s Game Score on Monday (90), is statistically the 2nd-best Rangers start of the 2013 season, topped only by the first time he flirted with perfection in Houston.
At 69-50, having won 13 out of 14 and 8 consecutively, the Texas Rangers are currently a wrecking ball in the American League. With 18 games in 21 days against the Brewers, Mariners, Astros, White Sox and Twins, there’s no reason to assume the club cannot continue its assault.
This is, almost imperatively, the stretch of schedule for the Rangers to make a move, because by the time September 2nd rolls around and they’re once again slugging it out with the Athletics in Oakland, there will not be a ton of reprieves from there onward. The schedule will get tougher as the games become more critical.
But this isn’t the time to dwell on all that. This is a day to celebrate Yu Darvish and the Rangers on their quest to baseball nirvana.