Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The Tampa Bay Rays – and all Major League baseball teams as a whole – can probably hear the music of “Jaws” when they enter the stadium today.
Yu Darvish is coming.
That’s amazing news and should be a shot in the arm to the team, the fans and the Texas Rangers organization as a whole.
Darvish will be getting his first start of the season Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, and it will be a wonderful sight to see the whirring Japanese right-hander firing pitch after pitch at those pesky Rays.
You were probably just like me — when you heard Darvish was going to see a back specialist about recurring neck issues that have plagued him a little bit here and there over the past year or so — just waiting for some kind of catastrophic news to come of the exam.
After all, no good news was coming out of Surprise, Ariz., throughout Spring Training. Guys were falling left and right, and it seemed as if the Rangers were going to look like the Houston Astros – playing with a team of no-names – by the time game one of the season arrived.
But the exam went well, Darvish resumed his throwing program shortly after and he will be standing on that beautiful dirt hill come Sunday.
What should our expectations be, though?
Pitchers are a funky bunch and are creatures of habit. Minor hiccups in their routines can have major impacts on performance for a start or two, or three, or for an entire season.
If you follow NASCAR – or have watched the movie “Days of Thunder” – you know drivers of any kind don’t like going to go to hospitals or funeral homes, period.
The same could be said for a pitcher in professional baseball. Being forced to skip a day of long toss, or a bullpen session, or heck, stepping wrong during a follow-through during a regular season game can throw them off.
Everything must repeat itself accordingly week by week, day by day, start by start, pitch by pitch.
At the same time, when a pitcher is feeling right, comfortable and physically healthy, they can come back from these little hiccups and not miss a beat.
See how back and forth that is? Thus is the life of a pitcher.
But we’re talking about a guy who is an absolute machine.
We’re talking about a guy who, in his first two seasons in MLB, logged 191 1/3 and 202 2/3 innings, respectively.
We’re talking about a guy who – again, in just two seasons – has struck out 498 batters.
We’re talking about a guy who has a career 3.34 ERA and is just getting better and better.
We’re talking about a guy who has started, at least, 29 games a year through his first two seasons.
Yu Darvish is a horse, period, and expectations should be just as high as they always have been.
In his latest bullpen session, Rangers manager Ron Washington said he saw everything he expected to see from Yu Darvish.
Coming from the mouth of the most literal man involved in baseball, those are golden words.
What is great news to Texas Rangers fans is horrible news for fans and players of opposing teams.
Yu Darvish is coming.