Texas Rangers

Darvish pleased with fastball in first spring outing for Rangers

Since the day Yu Darvish first arrived at the Surprise Recreation Campus in 2012, Texas Rangers pitching coaches have stressed to him the importance of recording quick outs.

His slider is his best pitch, and it can be devastating. It is as responsible for his outrageously good, historic strikeout rate as any other pitch.

The Rangers don’t want to see the slider disappear, but they do want to see the high pitch counts that have hampered Darvish go away. They want to see Darvish, who has only one career complete game of nine innings in 100 career starts, work in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings more often.

In theory, that would give the Rangers a better chance of winning when he starts.

The best way to do that is to get hitters swinging early at his fastballs.

Darvish was of that mindset Sunday in his spring debut, tossing 1  2/3 scoreless innings on 37 pitches in the Rangers’ 6-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals. Darvish went to the heater to produce early swings after needing 25 pitches in the first inning.

Of all that has been made of Darvish working on a split-finger fastball, the four-seamer and two-seamer are the pitches that can make his workload more manageable.

“I felt pretty good about my fastball today,” Darvish said. “That was the biggest thing. It was control. I was throwing to the location that might have been called a ball, but it was close.

“It’s important for me to throw a lot of strikes with my fastball. You look at the second inning, and guys were swinging at my fastball.”

Darvish’s first fastball registered 94 mph, and his third popped 96 mph. He caught Alex Gordon looking on a 94 mph fastball for the game’s first out, and caught Jorge Soler looking at another fastball to end the first.

But the Royals didn’t bite at the cut fastball and splits that tailed out of the strike zone as Darvish’s pitch count mounted. Nevertheless, he was pleased with the movement he got on the split even though he didn’t command it well.

He didn’t even throw his vaunted slider.

“That is an anomaly,” pitching coach Doug Brocail said.

Darvish saw the results of good fastball command in the second inning. With only a few batters to play with before hitting his pitch limit, Darvish threw fastballs on eight of his 12 pitches.

He allowed a leadoff double before getting consecutive grounders to first. James Loney picked the second grounder and threw home to save a run.

“It was nice to see him out there for the first time,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Some deep counts. He got to some two-strike counts and just couldn’t find the range on the put-away pitch. The velocity was good. I liked that part of that.”

Pitching at Surprise Stadium for the first time since tearing his ulnar collateral ligament in his first spring start in 2015, Darvish admitted that the injury crossed his mind as he was warming up and spooked him a bit.

Those thoughts faded once the game started. He touched 94 mph twice against Gordon and threw three fastballs at 96 mph. His final fastball, the one that induced the grounder to Loney, came in at 91 mph.

“Ninety-six is always good,” Darvish said.

Especially when it’s around the plate early in counts and opposing hitters put it in play. Quick swings and quick outs will give Darvish a better chance of pitching deeper into games.

And, in theory, that would give the Rangers a better chance of winning when he starts.

“I believe that he does command the fastball,” Banister said. “They deep counts for him because his stuff is so good it’s hard for the hitters to see. When it’s out of range, they don’t swing. When they do, they foul it off.

“This is a guy with a big fastball with multiple ranges on the velo chart. I think the biggest thing for him is to understand that there are quick outs for him. He doesn’t have to be as fine in certain situations. I’m comfortable with where he was at today.”

Up next

▪ vs. Brewers, 2:05 p.m. Monday, Surprise Stadium

Brewers probable pitchers: RHP Junior Guerra, LHP Josh Hader, RHP Corey Knebel, RHP Jhan Martinez, RHP Tyler Cravy, RHP Damien Magnifico, RHP Stephen Kohlscheen, RHP Forrest Snow

Rangers probable pitchers: RHP Eddie Gamboa, RHP Connor Sadzeck, RHP Brady Dragmire, LHP Dario Alvarez, RHP Jose Leclerc

▪ at Indians, 2:05 p.m. Monday, Goodyear Ballpark

Rangers probable pitchers: RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez, RHP Allen Webster, RHP Tyler Wagner, RHP R.J. Alvarez, RHP Jose Valdespina

Indians probable pitchers: RHP Carlos Carrasco, RHP Zach McAllister, RHP Dan Otero, RHP Adam Plutko, LHP Chris Narveson, RHP Travis Banwart

Jeff Wilson: 817-390-7760, @JeffWilson_FWST

Texas

210

111

000

6

Kansas City

001

000

003

4

Texas ab

r

h

bi

Kansas City ab

r

h

bi

DShelds cf

3

1

1

1

A.Grdon lf

2

0

1

0

Rbinson cf

2

0

0

0

O’Brien pr

2

1

0

0

Sh.Choo dh

2

0

0

0

Mstakas dh

2

0

0

0

A.Ibnez ph

2

1

1

1

C.Vllot ph

2

1

2

2

Rya.Rua lf

3

1

1

2

Orlando cf

2

1

0

0

C.Pello lf

1

0

0

0

B.Burns cf

2

0

1

1

J.Gallo 3b

3

0

1

0

H.Dzier 1b

2

0

1

1

J.Mrgan 3b

1

0

0

0

S.Denez 1b

2

0

0

0

T.Snder rf

2

0

1

0

J.Soler rf

3

0

0

0

J.Hying pr

1

0

0

0

Bnfacio rf

1

0

0

0

J.Loney 1b

3

0

0

0

C.Colon 2b

2

0

1

0

R.Gzman 1b

1

0

0

0

C.Toups 2b

2

0

0

0

Chrinos c

2

0

0

0

Ccchini 3b

2

0

0

0

Jimenez c

1

1

1

0

Mrrfeld 3b

2

1

1

0

Trevino c

1

0

0

0

Mondesi ss

2

0

1

0

J.Prfar ss

1

1

1

1

R.Trres ss

2

0

0

0

Alberto pr

1

0

0

0

Gllgher c

2

0

1

0

Bernier 2b

3

0

1

0

P.Morin c

2

0

0

0

Knr-Flf 2b

1

0

0

0

Totals 34

5

8

5

Totals 36

4

9

4

E—Cecchini (1), Merrifield (1), Mondesi (1). DP—Texas 3, Kansas City 0. LOB—Texas 4, Kansas City 9. 2B—Vallot (1), Burns (1), Colon (1). 3B—Vallot (1), Dozier (1). HR—Ibanez (1), Rua (1). SB—DeShields (2). CS—Robinson (1).

Texas

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Darvish W, 1-0

1  2/3

1

0

0

2

2

Claiborne H, 1

 1/3

0

0

0

0

0

Gee H, 1

2

4

1

1

0

3

Faulkner

1

0

0

0

1

0

Hauschild

2

1

0

0

0

3

Wright

1

0

0

0

0

0

Loewen

 2/3

3

3

3

1

0

Reyes S, 1-1

 1/3

0

0

0

0

0

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Zimmer L, 0-1

1  1/3

4

3

2

1

1

Alexander

1  2/3

1

0

0

0

2

McCarthy

1

1

1

0

0

1

Almonte

1

1

1

1

1

0

League

1

1

1

1

1

0

Parnell

1

0

0

0

0

0

Culver

1

0

0

0

0

0

Moylan

1

0

0

0

0

0

WP—Zimmer, League. Umpires—Home, Lance Barrett; First, Quinn Wolcott; Third, Sean Barber. T—2:55. A—4,556

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

  Comments