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Entries in Yu Darvish (21)

Wednesday
Apr252012

Yu The Man vs. Yankees

Yu Darvish enjoyed his best stateside start last night, shutting out the New York Yankees while recording bunches of strikeouts (10) and ground balls (12) in 8.1 innings pitched. Per usual, Darvish had his expansive repertoire on display, throwing fewer than 50 percent fastballs while also mixing in cutters, sliders, curves and splitters. But what made his Tuesday night start so successful is that he got typically patient Bombers batters to go fishing.

Yankees hitters chased 25 of Darvish's 64 pitches thrown out of the strike zone (39 percent), compared to 22 percent during his first three major league starts. The Yankees had shown pretty good plate discipline prior to Tuesday's hacking, entering the day with a 26 percent chase rate (28 percent MLB average).

Darvish was particularly adept at getting New York's lefty-swinging batters -- switch-hitters Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira as well as Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez -- to try to poke at pitches off the outside corner. Here's the location of the Yankees' out-of-zone swings against Darvish:

Location of Yankees' swings on out-of-zone pitches vs. Darvish, 4/24/12

Darvish took advantage of New York's free-swinging ways by racking up seven of his strikeouts on pitches swung at outside of the strike zone. He got Swisher and Ibanez twice, plus Granderson, Teixeira and righty Derek Jeter once.

Monday
Apr232012

Is Yu Getting Squeezed?

While Yu Darvish sports a 2-0 record and a 3.57 ERA in his first three MLB starts, his control has left something to be desired. The 25-year-old righty, formerly of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, has walked nearly as many batters (13) as he has whiffed (14) in 17.2 innings pitched. Your first inclination might be to think that Darvish has been a Dice-K-like nibbler, preferring to throw pitches out of the strike zone and relying upon hitters to chase. That hasn't really been the case, though. Rather, Darvish appears to have gotten some tough calls from ups so far.

Despite his high walk total, Darvish's percentage of pitches thrown in the strike zone (52) is actually well above the 48 percent average for AL starting pitchers in 2012. But when it comes to getting called strikes on pitches taken in the strike zone, Darvish lags behind. Take a look at his called strike rate on in-zone pitches taken, and then the AL average for starters:

Darvish's called strike rate on pitches taken in the strike zone, 2012Average called strike rate on in-zone pitches taken for AL SP, 2012

Overall, AL starters have a called strike rate of 78% on pitches taken in the strike zone. Darvish, however, has a called strike rate of just under 67% in such situations. That's dead last among AL starters who have faced at least 40 batters:

Called strike rate on in-zone pitches taken by batters, 2012

PitcherPAClStk%
Dan Haren 68 90.2%
James Shields 74 89.5%
Jeremy Hellickson 52 86.7%
Brandon McCarthy 80 84.2%
Matt Moore 56 82.2%
Jason Vargas 48 81.8%
Ivan Nova 56 81.4%
Hiroki Kuroda 56 80.4%
Brandon Morrow 51 80.4%
C. J. Wilson 52 79.4%
CC Sabathia 61 79.3%
Tommy Hunter 52 79.2%
Matt Harrison 52 79.1%
Francisco Liriano 48 78.9%
Felix Hernandez 48 78.8%
Bartolo Colon 52 78.6%
Jered Weaver 58 78.3%
Ricky Romero 67 77.6%
John Danks 77 77.0%
Colby Lewis 66 76.7%
Derek Holland 57 76.4%
Justin Verlander 71 76.1%
Carl Pavano 66 75.8%
Blake Beavan 52 75.5%
Jake Arrieta 68 71.9%
Neftali Feliz 56 71.7%
Henderson Alvarez 55 68.8%
Justin Masterson 62 67.9%
Ervin Santana 63 67.9%
Yu Darvish 58 66.7%

 

The umps' skinny strike zone and a low chase rate by batters when Darvish has thrown a pitch out of the zone (22 percent, compared to the 28% average) have led to Yu's control woes. Yu has to hope he stops getting squeezed so much starting on Tuesday against the Yankees.

Tuesday
Apr102012

Yu Darvish vs. Ichiro

While Yu Darvish opened his MLB career with a win over the Mariners last night, that was more the product of Texas teeing off on Hector Noesi than the $112 million man's great outing. Darvish allowed five runs in 5.2 innings, surrendering eight hits while striking out five batters and walking four.

The matchup eagerly anticipated by seamheads ten time zones apart was Darvish vs. Ichiro. The first tilt between the former Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters ace and Sawamura winner and the erstwhile Orix BlueWave and three-time Pacific League MVP went in Ichiro's favor. Here's a quick look at how Ichiro went 3-for-4 against the latest Japanese star to make the jump to MLB.

First Inning

Darvish started Ichiro off with a 92 mph cutter, which was generously called a ball. Ichiro then fouled off a 95 mph four-seamer thrown up and away, took a 94 mph four-seamer inside for a ball and fouled off two more 94 mph four-seamers. With a 2-2 count, Darvish reared back, fired a 96 mph four-seamer and missed over the heart of the plate. Ichiro lined the pitch into left field for a single.

 

Second Inning

Darvish fell behind Ichiro again by missing way outside with a 93 mph two-seamer and then just missing low and inside with a 92 mph four-seamer. Down 2-0, Darvish left another four-seamer over the middle of the plate that Ichiro clubbed over right fielder Nelson Cruz's head for a double.

 

Fourth Inning

In the fourth, Darvish yet again got behind in the count by narrowly missing low and inside with an 80 mph slider and then well outside with a 92 mph four-seamer. Ichiro fouled off a 92 mph four-seamer on the outer third of the plate and took a 93 mph four-seamer low and inside to make it a 3-1 count. Darvish made one of his best pitches of the night, hitting the black with a 93 mph four-seamer thrown away that produced a ground out.

 

Sixth Inning

Darvish tried to stay away from Ichiro in their final battle. Ichiro took a 93 mph four-seamer outside for a ball, poked a 92 mph four-seamer foul that was way outside, and then took an 82 mph slider in the dirt to work a 2-1 count. Darvish then tried to hit the outside corner again, but the pitch was high and Ichiro singled to center field.

 

Overall, 15 of the 18 pitches Darvish threw to Ichiro were fastballs. Darvish fell behind in the count in each AB, and poor fastball command led to three base knocks. At least until the NPB stars match up again, Ichiro has bragging rights.

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