Monday night was the night Rangers fans, both in the USA and Japan, had all been waiting for: the debut of Yu Darvish. The pitcher Rangers management spent $51.7 million just to be able to negotiate a contract with him. The contract was an additional $56 million guaranteed, bringing the total guaranteed amount of money invested in Darvish to over $111 million. So, how would he do?
The immediate answer was: Not good. He threw 42 pitches, walked three batters, gave up three hits, and allowed four runs in his first inning of work in the MLB. He also struck out two batters. It was abundantly clear from the get-go that he was experiencing first-game jitters, which didn’t surprise me at all. However, he recovered, and started to look like the pitcher the Rangers invested in.
His next 4.2 innings of work, Darvish threw 69 pitches, allowed one run on five more hits and one more walk while striking out an additional three batters. There was a span in which he retired 10 straight batters during those innings of work, which is also an encouraging sign that he got over his jitters and was able to command his delivery.
While it’s one game, and we can’t really judge how a pitcher will do solely on one game, I’m going to say that Yu Darvish will be fine, and here’s why. After yesterday’s game, Darvish’s ERA is a pretty high 7.94. Gotta love early season ERAs. But what I’m looking at is his Fielding-Independent Pitching (FIP), or what his ERA should look like over a given time span, in this instance, one game. While his ERA is a 7.94, his FIP is a 3.58. That’s a huge difference. His xFIP, or Expected FIP, which suggests what his FIP should be, is 5.19. Hopefully the xFIP, FIP and ERA all decrease as Darvish pitches in more games.
So, why is Darvish’s ERA higher than his FIP? Well, it largely has to do with an absurdly high BABIP, or Batting Average on Balls in Play. As a result of yesterday’s game, his BABIP is a .400. At one point, Darvish’s BABIP was a .700, which suggests that the Mariners were finding all the spots in the field where there were no Rangers defenders. So, Darvish was pretty unlucky as well. The BABIP will go down as soon as Darvish starts to make his pitches, which he started doing as he settled down.
In other news, the Rangers also signed second baseman Ian Kinsler to a five-year contract extension, which will pay him $75 million between 2013 and 2017. I’m so relieved the Rangers are keeping him for quite a while. He’s one of my favorite players on the team. He can defend well, and he gets on base…pretty frequently. Both are major recipes for success.
And now, back to the Rangers game.