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8/16/1986 (30 y, 6 m, 4 d)
$50M / 5 Years (2012 - 2016) + 1 Option Years
Darvish is planning to re-incorporate the split-finger fastball into his pitching repertoire, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. (2/18/2017)
Early ADP Thoughts – Starting Pitcher, Part I
Paul Sporer (RotoGraphs)
The Strong Free-Agent Pitching Class of 2017-18
Craig Edwards (FanGraphs)
Even Yu Darvish Makes Adjustments
Eno Sarris (FanGraphs)
Top 24 Starting Pitchers for 2017
Paul Sporer (RotoGraphs)
Yu Darvish's Night at the Plate
Corinne Landrey (FanGraphs)
(Click Year to Expand /
Was Yu getting squeezed? It certainly seemed like it in the early going, and there was evidence that he wasn't getting calls on borderline strikes. And then maybe he did start getting those calls. Or he started throwing the ball in the zone more, as Jeff Zimmerman pointed out. Whatever it was, Darvish figured something out late in the season, cutting his walk rate to 5.2% in September and October. The best news about his debut was that Yu showed that he has the stuff to strike major league batters out, though. His swinging strike rate was sixth-best among qualified pitchers, his velocity was close to 93 mph, and all of his pitches save the fastball and changeup rated positively by pitch type values. That's impressive because he threw six distinct pitches -- seven if you count his slider twice, which has different breaks depending on how he throws it. His ground-ball rate was also above average, which is once again believable based on his repertoire. Another year of adjustment to the major league strike zone, plus a better understanding of what gets major league hitters out, should be good for Yu. On the other hand, he doesn't have great control, throws a ton of breaking balls, and gobbled up innings in Japan -- he may not be a great bet for long-term health. (
The Quick Opinion:
For now, it's all gravy for the 26-year-old Ranger ace. He showed that he has the pitches to get major leaguers out, and with a few more adjustments, he could step into fantasy ace-dom this year. Draft him in the second tier of aces, knowing that he has Cy-worthy stuff.
I'll have to admit I love Yu. The minute I saw Darvish pitch in Japan, I believed he had the stuff to dominate American hitters. And after striking out 498 dudes in two years, there's no doubt about that ability any longer. Mid-nineties velocity, two sliders, two curves and a splitter -- all of them plus -- give him plenty of weapons. But now I have to admit that there are reasons I worry about Yu. It's tempting to say his control got better in 2013 -- he did cut his walk rate, after all. And after being squeezed some in 2012, it's tempting to say that he finally got a fair shake from the umpires. But his first-strike rate (the best walk rate peripheral) got worse and is still below league average. Much of his improvement in control was just getting batters to whiff on pitches outside the zone more than he had his first year. And a word about injury. He throws his slider almost a quarter of the time, and that puts
stress on his elbow
. You also have a guy who's a little wild, so he's
not a Billy Beane strike-thrower guy
. Last, Darvish went on the DL in 2013, which is the best predictor of future DL woes. He seems about as likely for an injury in 2013 as it gets for a dominant 27-year-old. Obviously, there's a ton of upside. But now, at ace prices, there's a ton of risk, too. (
The Quick Opinion:
If you got into Yu before it was cool, congratulations. Now that you have to pay market prices for the Ranger's ace, the risk might be too much to make it a great proposition. When it comes to injury and wildness, there are reasons to worry about Darvish in 2014.
Since joining Texas from Japan before the 2012 season, Darvish is the only qualified pitcher in the majors to have recorded a strikeout rate of 30% or better -- ahead of Max Scherzer (28.6%), for example, and Clayton Kershaw (27.4%), for another example, and Felix Hernandez (25.7%) for a third example. Insofar as strikeout rate correlates strongly with run prevention, it's fair to suppose that Yu Darvish is among the very best of major-league pitchers. And, indeed, what other numbers reveal is that Yu Darvish is among the very best of major-league pitchers. Over that same interval, he's produced the eighth-most wins above replacement (WAR) and the 10th-most wins above replacement using runs allowed as the input, as opposed to fielding independent pitching (i.e. RA9-WAR). He walks more batters than basically any other starter with equally strong run-prevention numbers, but he's also improved on that aspect of his game in each subsequent year since his debut. The only concern at this point regarding Darvish is the elbow inflammation which compelled him to miss much of the season's last two months. As of press time, however, he's resumed a normal offseason throwing schedule and there appears to be no structural damage of any sort. (Carson Cistulli)
The Quick Opinion:
Darvish has in arguably the best swing-and-miss stuff in the majors and
the highest strikeout rate among starters since making his debut in 2012. Given adequate health, he remains a perennial Cy Young candidate.
This is going to be quite the experiment in risk seeking. Darvish hasn't pitched since August 9, 2014, due to elbow inflammation that ultimately required Tommy John surgery. He only started a throwing program this past August, making it unlikely he'll make the start of the season. If he can return in mid May, as hoped, maybe he can offer 130 innings, and an owner's ability to stash him on the disabled list affords the opportunity to take an extra early season flier. It's projecting what he does in those innings that's even tougher than the timeline, because even at age 29, it's unfair to expect Darvish to be quite as elite immediately upon returning. Before the injury he was ridiculous, striking out more than 30% of batters with and posting ERA and FIP firmly in the ace range. It's reasonable to anticipate a decline in strikeout rate and an uptick in ERA given his occasional control snafus, at least in Year One. His draft range is wide based on league format and risk preference -- he's certainly higher on the boards of those in head-to-head leagues or who have confidence in their ability to create a replacement-plus-Darvish composite roster spot. So long as you can account for the time missed, the upside is probably high enough to draft him in an third or fourth starter spot. (Blake Murphy)
The Quick Opinion:
Tommy John surgery could keep Darvish, one of the league's most exciting pitchers, out until mid May. Where he gets drafted depends on league format and risk preference, but the upside his tough to ignore given the strikeout track record.
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Updated: Monday, February 20, 2017 3:32 AM ET
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