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Entries in Yu Darvish (21)

Sunday
Jun022013

Liriano Thriving Low in the Zone

You could forgive Pirates fans if, upon hearing their club signed Francisco Liriano over the winter, they had bad flashbacks to Oliver Perez. The comparison wasn't hard to make: A tantalizing lefty with low 90s gas, a wipeout slider...and the aim of a blind-folded dart-thrower. Liriano issued five free passes per nine innings during the 2011-12 seasons, racking up a five-plus ERA and even getting banished to the bullpen for a time last May. Add in a broken non-throwing arm that wiped out the first month of his season, and expectations were low that Liriano would show the form that earned him All-Star status in 2006 and AL Comeback Player of the Year in 2010.

But Liriano is doing just that. He has punched out 39 batters and walked just nine through 29 innings pitched, and he has yet to surrender a single home run. The 29-year-old is keeping the ball in the park by pounding hitters at the knees: He has thrown 62% of his pitches to the lower-third of the strike zone, the highest clip among starting pitchers throwing at least 400 pitches this season and well above his 52% mark from 2012. Here's more on Liriano's prowess low in the zone:

  • Liriano is inducing whiffs 50% of the time that hitters swing at his low stuff, narrowly beating out baseball's strikeout king, Yu Darvish, for the best mark among starting pitchers.

Liriano's contact rate by pitch location, 2013

  • Liriano is also getting plenty of swings on low pitches thrown off the plate, as his 36% chase rate attests. The only starters with a higher chase rate on low stuff are Shaun Marcum, Johnny Cueto, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ervin Santana and Felix Hernandez.
  • With all of those whiffs and chases, Liriano is limiting batters to a .191 slugging percentage on low pitches. That's 12th-lowest among starters and over 120 points below the big league average (.314), though A.J. Burnett (.153 opponent slugging percentage on low pitches) still has bragging rights in the Pirates clubhouse.
Tuesday
May282013

Deconstructing Darvish

For the third time this season, Yu Darvish, last night, struck out 14 batters in a game.

For the third time this season, Yu Darvish, last night, allowed four runs in a game.

Darvish picked up a no-decision in the Rangers 5-4 loss to Arizona, keeping his record at 7-2 and dropping the Rangers record in Darvish starts to 8-3.

Darvish 2013 starts

Rk Date   Opp Rslt Inngs Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA Pit Str
1 Apr 2 @ HOU W,7-0 GS-9 W(1-0) 8.2 1 0 0 0 14 0 0.00 111 78
2 Apr 7   LAA W,7-3 GS-5 W(2-0) 5.0 6 3 3 4 6 0 1.98 85 50
3 Apr 12 @ SEA L,1-3 GS-6 L(2-1) 6.0 3 3 3 1 8 0 2.75 108 61
4 Apr 19   SEA W,7-0 GS-7 W(3-1) 7.0 3 0 0 3 10 0 2.02 111 69
5 Apr 24 @ LAA W,11-3 GS-6 W(4-1) 6.0 3 0 0 2 11 0 1.65 100 68
6 Apr 30   CHW W,10-6 GS-6 W(5-1) 6.0 7 4 4 3 9 1 2.33 108 64
7 May 5   BOS W,4-3 GS-7   7.0 4 3 3 2 14 2 2.56 127 78
8 May 11 @ HOU W,8-7 GS-7 W(6-1) 7.0 3 3 3 3 8 2 2.73 105 63
9 May 16   DET W,10-4 GS-8 W(7-1) 8.0 7 4 4 1 6 2 2.97 130 90
10 May 21   OAK L,0-1 GS-6 L(7-2) 6.0 5 1 1 3 5 1 2.83 101 56
11 May 27(2) @ ARI L,4-5 GS-8   7.2 7 4 4 0 14 1 3.03 116 83
              74.1 49 25 25 22 105 9 3.03    
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/28/2013.

Darvish is a joy to watch as he has held batters to a .186 BAA this season

As you can see from the heat map above, this season, Darvish has held batters to a .147 when he has kept the ball the ball low in the strike zone.

Last night, however that didn't work as well as the D-backs went 4-17 lower in the zone with the key blow being a Didi Gregorius homer on a low cutter with one on in the 8th that tied the game at 4-4.

Darvish has allowed nine homers this season

Darvish has been incredibly effective late in his games

SplitGIPERERAPAABRH2B3BHRBBSOBA
Innings 1-3 11 33.0 17 4.64 141 125 17 31 5 2 5 10 51 .248
Innings 4-6 11 32.0 6 1.69 116 105 6 14 2 1 3 10 40 .133
Innings 7-9 6 9.1 2 1.93 35 33 2 4 0 0 1 2 14 .121
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/28/2013. 

Darvish from the 6th inning on

From the 6th inning on he's held batters to a .108 average (7-for-65), one triple, two homers, and 24 whiffs and just five walks.

The Darvish Whiffs

Darvish has recorded 105 strikeouts this season and you can see they have occurred everywhere in and around the strike zone. 

  • 32 have come on his fastball
  • 3 on his curve
  • 70 on his slider/cutter
  • 87 have been swings and misses
  • 20 have been on 0-2 pitches
  • 32 have been on 1-2 pitches
  • 35 have been on 2-2 pitches
  • 18 have been on 3-2 pitches
  • 18 have been called strike threes 
  • 50 have been on pitches chased by batters out of the zone
  • The numbers that I find most amazing - 52 strikeouts have been by lefties and 53 by righties 

There is no more exciting pitcher to watch in baseball right now

Give me one game to watch and I would rather see Yu Darvish than any other pitcher and that includes Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, and Matt Harvey.

If Mariano Rivera does not start for the AL in the All-Star Game, I hope it's Yu Darvish so that the world can see him in action.

Thursday
May162013

Verlander, Darvish Bring the Heat in Different Ways

Gloves might as well be optional tonight in Texas, as Justin Verlander (10 strikeouts per nine innings, 1.93 ERA) squares off against Yu Darvish (13.7 K/9, 2.73 ERA) at 8:05 PM EST on MLB Network. Verlander and Darvish are early Cy Young favorites in part because they bring the heat, but they use their premium fastballs in far different ways. Verlander lets it ride high and in the strike zone. Darvish, by contrast, pounds hitters with shin-high pitches.

Verlander is averaging "just" 93.3 MPH with his fastball, tying him with David Price, Justin Masterson and Derek Holland for highest among American League starters. Darvish also ranks in the top ten, averaging 92.8 MPH. Those lofty radar gun readings are translating into precious little hard contact for opposing hitters:

Lowest opponent slugging percentage on fastballs, 2013

Verlander and Darvish both throw hard, and they're both torturing hitters. That's where the similarities end, though. Check out their respective fastball locations in 2013:

Verlander's fastball location

Detroit's ace dares hitters to handle his searing fastball, throwing far more of them over the plate (56%) than the average MLB starter (52%). Most of those fastballs are belt-or-letter-high: Verlander has tossed just 19% of his heaters down in the zone, well under the 30% MLB average.

Darvish's fastball location

While Verlander's fastball philosophy can be summed up as, "Here it is, just try and hit it," Darvish's approach relies more on deception and location. Texas' ace has thrown just 41% of fastballs over the plate, the lowest clip among qualified starters. He has also thrown 41% of his heaters down in the zone, trailing only Jeremy Hellickson among AL starters.

High and in the zone, low and off the dish...either way, the result is devastating. Good luck, Rangers and Tigers hitters. You'll need it tonight.