Fun Fact Friday (Rangers Bonus Edition)

14 06 2013


Yu Darvish has been pitching great again this season, but due to the Texas Rangers‘ sudden lack of hitting, most of it has been wasted of late as it seems as if he’ll never earn his eighth win. Since his last win May 16 against the Detroit Tigers, Darvish lost 1-0 to the Oakland Athletics and has gone four consecutive games without getting a decision, including Thursday night’s 3-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. During these five games, Darvish has a 2.08 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings, but the Rangers have only given him seven runs to work with—four coming in the same game.

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Game 162 – The Biggest of Them All

3 10 2012

Here we go.

Today is the day that could lead to the reigning AL Champions reestablishing themselves as the Buffalo Bills of the MLB or simply closing out a tight race when push comes to shove. Dempster will soon step out onto the mound at the Coliseum and must pitch his best game since he put on a Rangers uniform if he wants to give his team a chance to save face. A lot of face.

The Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers are all tied up with a record of 93-68. That’s right – the AL West team that doesn’t have one player making over $10 million, compared to the team in Los Angeles that has seven of those, will be challenging the team that has been the sole leader of the division for 177 straight days. (Can you say #Moneyball?) You know that new one-game, wild-card playoff that will implemented this year? A trial run is about to take place.

Winner takes all Wednesday afternoon as the team that comes out on top between the A’s and Rangers will claim the AL West pennant. Even though Texas had a 13-game lead on June 30 and had a four-game lead with six games to go, that is just as in the past as the Rangers past two failures in the World Series. This entire six-month long season will literally be defined by one day of baseball. That one day has arrived.

Ryan Dempster (7-3, 4.64) will attempt to avoid pitching as he did last Friday when he allowed the Angels to rack up four earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched. Since he came down south, it has been difficult to figure out Dempster as he has been one of the more inconsistent starting pitchers. Even though he has pitched fairly well of late, he must be at the top of his game since he will be facing a stout, young pitcher that hasn’t been afraid of the limelight. A.J. Griffin (7-1, 2.71) has been one of the best rookie pitchers of late, winning 10 of his last 12 outings. He has a certain command that is not often seen from first-year pitchers and will be difficult to slow down.

The Rangers can only blame themselves for the pressure at hand. They have played nowhere close to their level of baseball during the most important stretch of the season. Losing eight of their past 12 games, including four of their last five, this would go down as one of the best representations of choking in modern-day sports.

Inconsistency seems to be the new consistent and making the crucial hit seems to be a constant struggle for everyone in this lineup – even AL’s player of the month for September Adrian Beltre (2-11, no RBIs in his last three games). Speaking of inconsistent, Josh Hamilton has decided to go into yet another slump as he has gone 1-8 in the last two losses, while failing to hit a home run in the past eight games. When he carelessly swings the bat, he again looks like the man that went through that dreadful drought midway through the season. How can the Rangers put their faith in that type of unpredictable batter?

Pitching has it’s fair share of problems. The players in the projected playoff rotation – Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Dempster – have all had recent off nights while a lingering injury to Mike Adams has put the bullpen into question. Yes, closer Joe Nathan picked up his 37th save against the Angels Sunday night, but also blew one while picking up the loss earlier in the day to the same team.

The Rangers not only want to win this game for their own dignity, but they do not want to allow an A’s team to enter the playoffs even hotter than they already are. Remember the last time they had to face a surging team in the postseason? Alexi Ogando, Matt Lowe and Neftali Feliz sure remember. If Oakland pulls this one game out and takes the division, you would have to give them the clear advantage if they face Texas later on in the AL playoffs.

Even though the Rangers’ current situation can only described as frustrating and stressful for a DFW sports follower such as myself, this is what makes sports one of the most intriguing genres on television. Most season finales do not have the ability to promise their viewers a finish that will either evoke pure joy or utter distress – two emotions all television shows dream for from their viewers. And once this intense game comes to a close, fans of the losing team will only have to wait a short time period before they get yet another one-game stress fest.

“Take one game at a time” never has seemed to be more fitting for Ron Washington and the Rangers than it does right now. Before they can begin their quest to conquer the MLB mountain known as the postseason that they have geared up for, attempted to climb and come right near the peak two years in a row, it all starts with this one game. They may have already clinched a playoff berth and will live to play another day no matter the outcome of game 162. However, game 162 will shape the mindset of every single Ranger. Game 162 will either start their playoff run with a bang or a bust. Game 162 will give Texas the AL West or give them a win-or-go-home playoff game.

Go take your third straight pennant if you want it. Or continue to crumble toward the finish. It’s all in your control, Rangers.

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Fun Fact Friday

21 09 2012

Even though he might have had a bumpy start to his rookie and American baseball debut season, Yu Darvish has come into his own and established himself as an ace for the Texas Rangers. After recording his 16th win Thursday night, Darvish set the MLB record for most wins by a Japanese rookie as he already broke the Rangers rookie record about a month ago. Darvish has 214 strikeouts, which ranks him second all-time in American League rookies, and only four rookies in history have recorded this many wins (16) while handing out at least 200 strikeouts in a season.

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Punctual Pitching

7 06 2012



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What We Expect From Yu

25 04 2012

Remember when Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys gave up a plethora of draft picks to sign then Lions wide receiver Roy Williams to a monster contract only to see him turn into a ball-dropping, engagement ring-losing player that never came close to meeting his expectations?

When Yu Darvish put up a 7.94 ERA in 5.2 innings during his first start against the dreadful Seattle Mariners, many DFW fans began to fidget in their seats, thinking that Nolan Ryan might have just taken a page out of Jones’s book. They began to worry that the back-to-back AL champs just wasted over $100 million on a player that has no command over his pitches.

However, what Darvish did against Curtis Granderson and the scorching New York Yankees Tuesday gives hope that this pitcher could end up being worth his massive paycheck.

The Texas Rangers only needed two runs to take down the Yankees thanks to Darvish (3-0) and his phenomenal pitching.

The Rangers’ rookie went 8 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts, two walks and no runs. He shutout the league’s second most prolific offense (97 runs on the year) behind his own team’s bats and brought his ERA down to 2.42 on the young season.

He has now thrown over 100 pitches in all four of his starts.

Darvish’s major advantage compared to other pitchers is his variety of pitches. In his first three starts, he had not made that apparent.

He brought it all out Tuesday night and even made his opponent notice the diversity in his pitches.

“He has a lot of different pitches,” Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. “We really didn’t know what to expect. He had the fastball, two-seamer, cutter, four-seamer, curveball, slider, change-up — he’s got pretty much everything.”

What made this deadly was the fact that he placed these pitches exactly where he wanted them to go. He had the speed, the movement and the placement he so desired in his pitches.

His mental game can’t be discounted, either. In the third inning, facing Granderson with the bases loaded and no outs, it seemed inevitable the Yankees were about to strike.

Darvish didn’t break, though, as he struck out the 2011 AL RBI champion with a breaking ball. He followed this up by getting Alex Rodriguez to hit a grounder to third for a 5-3 double play.

This spectacular showing on the mound is what Ryan must have envisioned when he approved this risky investment. The ability to make the Yankees powerful lineup swing and miss as if they had lost their “good eye” is what “living up to the hype” truly means.

Now comes the hard part for Darvish; he has to sustain this level of play.

He has to come out and effectively throw his fastball, curveball, slider, cutter, splitter, changeup and whatever else is in his arsenal on a consistent basis every time he comes out to pitch. Not all pitchers are expected to do this, but not all pitchers have a $51,703,411 bid price attached to their name.

Without regular showings like Tuesday’s, he could fall trap to disappointment, just as Roy Williams did when he forgot how to catch a football.

This sounds like a hefty task, especially early on in the season when the 25-year-old looked like a rookie simply trying to find his groove.

But Tuesday showed it’s a task Mr. Darvish has the ability to accomplish. He could follow in Neftali Feliz’s footsteps and become the second Rangers pitcher in the past three years to win MLB Rookie of the Year. Not only could he receive this award, but he could also become a vital cog on a team making serious noise in the playoffs.

His potential bar has been raised and the nation expects him to reach up and grab it.

Can he do it? Yes. Will he do it? I’ll leave that up to Yu.

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Are Yu Ready For This?

20 01 2012

Yu Darvish is on his way to Texas. Will he live up to expectations?

Similar to the excitement in Minnesota due to Ricky Rubio coming to America to play for the Timberwolves, Yu Darvish will bring plenty of attention with his move to America to play for the Texas Rangers. The only difference here is Jon Daniels has a bigger hole left in his wallet. Will it all be worth it?

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Thank Yu Japan!

20 12 2011

C.J. Wilson’s departure left a hole in the Rangers starting rotation. After today, Texas has made a huge step towards filling in that hole.

The Texas Rangers came out as the highest bidder for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, reportedly posting a $51.7 million bid to simply get the chance to sign him to the team.

The 2011 AL Champs will now have 30 days to get a contract together for Darvish. If no deal occurs, the bid doesn’t go through, and the Japanese pitcher will stay with in Japan this next season. However, I have no doubt a contract will get done, most likely around the amount of the bid. This would put the total amount of money spent for Darvish a little above $100 million.

This right-handed pitcher has been followed closely by many MLB teams as he posted a 93-38 record while in Japan along with a 1.99 ERA. This 25-year-old has phenomenal control on the mound and also has been reported to have a seven-pitch repertoire.

This is actually the second Japanese pitcher Rangers General Manager has gone after, bringing in Colby Lewis right before the 2010 season began.

This 6-foot-5  monster will have a lot of hype prior to and during the upcoming season. With the Rangers inability to finish off their playoff run two years in a row, many locally and nationally will pay close attention to what Darvish brings to this squad immediately. He could possibly be inserted as the the Rangers No. 1 starter. (Talk about build up.)

Looking at the Rangers pitching, Ron Washington will have his work cut out for him. Darvish, Holland, Lewis, Harrison, Ogando, and Feliz all look to be legitimate contenders for one of the five starting positions. With this signing, I believe the best move would be to send Ogando back to his 2010 position in the bullpen where he held the 7th and 8th inning down on a consistent basis. Throw him in with Mike Adams and Joe Nathan would provide the Rangers with a very scary bullpen.

Many analysts wonder if Darvish will be able to transfer his play in Japan to the big leagues in America. If Darvish can come anywhere close to the consistency on the mound he provided for his former team and establish a diverse set of pitches early on, I can easily see Darvish playing a key role in the Rangers starting rotation.

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