Padres: Yu Darvish sets a new franchise record in April

Yu Darvish has been nothing short of a pitching wizard for the San Diego Padres. This past offseason, when the club swung a mega-deal with the Chicago Cubs to acquire Darvish, GM A.J. Preller knew he was landing an upgrade to the rotation in the veteran right-hander. He did not realize how superb Darvish would be through the first month of the season.

On Friday, in a home matchup facing the San Francisco Giants, Darvish put together his fifth straight quality start. He notched a season-high 12 strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run and four hits. Darvish now has nine or more strikeouts in three straight starts and has recorded a 37.5 percent strikeout rate across that span. Following his Friday start, Darvish had set a new franchise record.

Padres: Darvish sets six-game strikeout record

Following his 12 strikeout outburst, Darvish finished the month of April with 49 strikeouts through his first six games, most of any Padres pitcher in the organization’s history. Four of the six starts have come at home. However, his two road starts include a start in Los Angeles facing the Dodgers and a start at PNC Park versus the Pirates.

Five of his six starts have been against division opponents, which help things considering the starts versus the Giants. The Dodgers have continued to help Darvish out in pitcher-friendly environments. Darvish, however, is not required of a specific domain when it comes to his production.

The simple fact of the matter is Darvish is a legitimate Cy Young candidate and has been seen as such dating back to last year. In that span, in looking back to his final season in a Cubs uniform, Darvish has made 18 starts. He carries a 2.05 ERA, 2.50 FIP, and 3.04 xFIP, along with a 31.8 percent strikeout rate and 5.8 percent walk rate.

His slider continues to be his most valuable pitch, despite that he does not throw it as often as his cutter. Per Baseball Savant, this year alone, Darvish has thrown in 22.8 percent of the time with opposing hitters notching one hit in 36 plate appearances. Opposing hitters hold a .029 average against Darvish’s slider — video game-level numbers.

Of some advanced key statistics, Darvish has improved upon his hard-hit rate, sweet spot rate, and out-of-zone rate, meaning he’s been able to goad hitters into chasing pitches, namely that devastating slider.

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The prospect of garnering Cy Young attention this year is fading quickly as New York Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched out of this world. However, Darvish has been rapidly who Preller and fans had hoped and should continue to dominate the headlines of sunny San Diego.