Yu Darvish: Shut ’em up with a shutout

Posted Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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galloway The grumbling about Yu Darvish is currently at a low hum, but seemingly growing louder while also picking up additional voices.

Some of that grumbling is even in-house from the north Arlington zip code.

“He’s no ace.”

“He’s no horse.”

This is some real stupid stuff. I hope you aren’t involved in this stupid stuff. If you are, seek help immediately.

But wait. Not that long ago, when the local summer blast furnace was arriving in June, wasn’t Darvish our confirmed horse/ace?

To each his own with the definitions, but my view of a pitching horse is a guy who keeps you in the ballgame for seven innings or beyond.

Yu had done that in five straight starts in August, and 14 of his 25 starts overall. That’s a horse, at least by today’s definition. Plus, Yu has worked fewer than six innings only twice all season.

And an ace? Well, that’s where the definition becomes tricky.

Maybe Darvish isn’t an ace yet. Maybe he’s simply the Rangers’ best starter, and one of the best in baseball. That sounds like an ace to me, but again, the definition is blurry.

Darvish is on the mound Friday night in Arlington as the Rangers open a brief weekend homestand against the woeful bats of the Minnesota Twins, a team that has already, with 31 games to go, struck out more than any club in Twins franchise history.

But this is also the kind of lowly opponent that brought out the grumblers over the last week or so.

Two starts ago, Darvish didn’t exactly snuff the Seattle Mariners, but he gave up only three runs in seven-plus innings. The Mariners ended up winning that game 4-3.

In his last start, Yu had a 2-0 lead on the White Sox in the sixth, but gave back the two runs on a home run ball in the bottom of the inning. Again, the Rangers ended up losing that game 3-2.

Doesn’t an ace take that 2-0 lead, and ride it through eight innings, then let Big Joe finish it up?

Yes. Maybe.

But it’s not like our favorite Iranian/Japanese pitcher caved in with a lead in Chicago. Old-timer Adam Dunn simply powered up on a pitch that, location-wise, seemed impossible to take deep.

From here, the frustration level with Darvish remains extremely low. Actually, when there’s frustration, it centers on the lack of run support for Yu, and that’s an area totally out of his control.

If he’s not an ace now, he’s an ace waiting to happen.

But the numbers are also the numbers.

Darvish has only won five games since mid-May, when he was 7-1 to start the season. Yu has a pedestrian 5-4 record in his last 16 starts. Team-wise, the Rangers are only 14-11 in Yu starts this season.

If nothing else, all of the above makes the Rangers’ overall record even more remarkable.

But do consider the following:

Darvish has an L when he lost games by scores of 3-1, 1-0, 3-l and 1-0.

In team losses when he started, and in games when Yu went six-plus innings, he got two runs and gave up one (the bullpen blew up), he got three runs and gave up three, he got three runs and gave up three, he got three runs and gave up three and he got two runs and gave up two.

So in nine of the 11 team L’s when Yu was on the mound, he gave up three runs or fewer.

Sorry for that kind of numbers-whipping, but, yes, I’m grumbling about the Yu grumbling.

Granted, however, this start Friday night is interesting, although not as much as his next start, which comes Wednesday in Oakland. The Twins are a K waiting to happen. Yu is the K leader in the American League.

It will probably take a shutout to shut up the grumblers.

Meanwhile, the Rangers do have a confirmed horse/ace on the payroll, except Nolan Ryan is some 25 years beyond that definition.

The way Nolan says he views Darvish this season:

“We’d all like to see Yu step up and be pitching into the ninth, and then turn it over to Joe [Nathan], but the offense hasn’t given him that kind of luxury, and neither do the way pitch counts come into play these days.

“I can’t be critical of Yu at all because of those two factors.”

Good point. At 120 pitches in a Yu game, the pitch-count police are howling at Ron Washington.

“At 120 pitches, I was just warming up for the final three innings,” added Ryan, laughing.

But with the Twins in town, the Yu grumblers will be on high alert Friday night. This is when a shut down and a shut up is definitely needed.

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

Randy Galloway, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @sportsdfw

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