Right-hander Yu Darvish has never started on Opening Day for the Texas Rangers, but that’s about to change.
Manager Jeff Banister announced on Saturday morning that Darvish will be the Texas Rangers’ starter for the 2017 season opener against Cleveland. It will be the first Opening Day start for Darvish with the Rangers after he made five Opening Day starts in Japan.
Darvish is set to become the ninth different Opening Day starter for the Rangers in the last nine years. Darvish was named the Opening Day starter in 2014, but was sidelined by neck stiffness and started the season on the disabled list.
Banister said that Darvish was appreciative of the opportunity, which went to Cole Hamels last season.
“This is a guy who knows his place in baseball,” Banister said. “The reality is he expects to be in this spot. I think he’s earned it.”
Darvish plowed through a group of Los Angeles Dodgers minor-leaguers Friday, allowing only one earned run in six innings while striking out five. It was the latest in a string of impressive spring outings that have seen him use all of his pitches and hit 97 mph on the radar gun.
Banister said that Darvish has hit all the checkpoints this spring after coming back last season from Tommy John surgery. Banister said that Darvish has been feeling strong and dialed in mentally since the first day of spring camp.
“He was in great shape,” Banister said. “You could tell that he killed it all winter long.”