Yu Darvish is a story. Unlike most players, who may get a good amount of media attention, Darvish attracts hundreds of reports and fans from around the globe. In a meaningless spring training contest, Darvish was the sole reason for over 140 media credentials and a live telecast broadcast all the way to Japan. But just how good was Darvish in his debut?
Will Venable might say he wasn’t that great. Of course, Venable didn’t say that. Instead, in a radio interview after the game he said, “he’s got decent stuff.”
Venable connected on a mistake pitch from Darvish and sent it rocketing toward center field for a sure home run – except it wasn’t. The ball hit about 40 feet up on the batter’s eye in center (which is part of the wall, not recessed behind the wall), and Venable had to settle for a loud double.
After the game, Darvish through an interpreter said, “As dry as the air is and the wind blowing out, the ball carried pretty far to me. He didn’t seem to hit it squarely.”
Venable would disagree, as would most who saw the hit. The ball was hit squarely, and Darvish was lucky to escape with a scoreless two innings pitched. Had that ball cleared the center field wall, Venable may have been the top story across baseball. Padres Will Venable Proves Darvish is Human with a Second Inning Bomb.
That’s a good headline, one that came mere feet from being a reality. But Darvish threw more than just that pitch to Venable. He threw 36 pitches, 26 of which were strikes. He struck out three Padres, all swinging. The Padres were looking to be aggressive against the 25-year old Japanese phenom, but that may have contributed to the strikeouts. Darvish features seven pitches; a four seam fastball, a two seam fastball, a 12-6 curve ball, a splitter, a cutter, a slider, and a change up.
The sheer number of pitches Darvish can throw will make him a great pitcher in the majors for years to come, but his movement is what will get batters out. Cameron Maybin struck out on an 84 mph slider. Carlos Quentin struck out on a hard curve (80 mph) that dove down and slightly away. John Baker struck out on an 88 mph splitter with just enough wrinkle to it. That’s three punch-outs using three different pitches. Impressive.
Darvish faced eight Padres hitters. He threw 17 fastballs to those batters for an average of 93 mph. However, he sprinkled in a little bit of everything. Darvish showed off a 67 mph curve ball, an 80 mph curve ball, a slider in the low 80’s, and a cutter in the high 80’s. His splitter had some good movement and looks very similar to his change up.
In all, there was a lot to be impressed with. Two hits, no runs, three strikeouts over two innings. That’s a good outing. For a complete breakdown of each pitch, check out ESPN Dallas here. They have mph, pitch selection, and result. Of note, Darvish threw from the stretch the entire time. He said he felt more comfortable doing so.
The Padres were the guinea pigs to test the u Darvish experiment, and now that it’s done, we know he’s the real deal. However, he still has to prove he can be consistent. A fastball ranging from 92-95, a curveball ranging from 67-80, and a plethora of other pitches can get him far. But he must perform consistently and without injury.