The Rangers are a .560 team (14-11) in 2013 when Yu Darvish starts.
They are a .587 team (61-43) when he doesn’t.
It’s just strange. Darvish is an absolute beast. I get emails from some of you every five days asking if I’d write an article on his Cy Young chances, which I suppose I’d consider if I cared at all about league awards. I know people who aren’t really baseball fans (no, really, I do) who will stop down in the opponents’ half during Darvish starts just to watch his video game stuff dance and dart and explode.
On the one hand, the ultimate results when Darvish takes the ball seem like an exercise in You Can’t Predict Ball.
But on the other, there’s the shutdown inning opportunities that seem too frequently to start with a Darvish walk, the trouble he’s had all season with the bottom third of the order, the home run log that’s populated by Dewayne Wise, David Ross, Matt Dominguez, Matt Dominguez again, Don Kelly, Didi Gregorius, John Jaso, a flagging Travis Hafner, Brett Gardner, Jayson Nix, Brandon Barnes, Michael Bourn, Kole Calhoun, Carlos Corporan, and only six other hitters who you’d probably count as legitimate home run threats.
Do you ever wonder how good Matt Garza would be if he had Yu Darvish’s stuff?
Garza’s mound temperament isn’t perfect, but I kinda like imagining Darvish if he had some of that.
Can he make that different? Can he make that better? Is that possible?
Isn’t it fair to say Garza’s stuff plays up at least a little bit because of it?
Is it fair to ask whether Darvish’s stuff actually plays down, at least from time to time?
What he did in the bottom of the seventh to Dayan Viciedo (strikeout swinging) and pinch-hitter Jeff Keppinger (strikeout swinging) and Alejandro De Aza (pop to shortstop), with men on first and third and nobody out, was pure beast mode.
But he’s also the guy who walked rookie Avisail Garcia on five pitches to start that inning and then surrendered a line drive single to rookie Conor Gillaspie on an 0-2 pitch, sending Garcia to third to cook up the mess that he eventually got out of.
A .560 team when Yu Darvish starts.
A .587 team when (in order of frequency) Derek Holland, Justin Grimm, Nick Tepesch, Alexi Ogando, Martin Perez, Matt Garza, Josh Lindblom, Ross Wolf, Matt Harrison, or Travis Blackley starts.
Pitcher wins are not direct functions of pitcher effectiveness. Obviously, team wins when a pitcher starts aren’t either, as the bullpen factors into every no-decision, by definition.
But is it fair to expect an ace to reach for that next gear when given a lead, when facing the bottom third, when the instant situation calls for a beast to put everyone in the same uniform on his back?
He’s my second favorite Rangers pitcher ever. I want him to be more.