Think back to the first time you ever heard the name Yu Darvish. Was it when Angel and Dodger and Braves scouts were raving about this 16 year old Japanese kid named Yu Darvishsefad? Maybe you read about this hotshot young pitcher in Japan who got busted smoking in a pachinko parlor before he was of legal age to do so. Was it when Daisuke Matsuzaka arrived with his mysterious gyro ball which ignited talk of the next wave of international talent and this youngster named Darvish throwing heat? Was it when Dice K flamed out allowing the nation to turn its lonely eyes to "The Next Great Japanese Import" Yu?
At some point you became aware of Yu Darvish. At some point you became aware of the talent he possesses. It was at that point you probably couldn't stop fantasizing about what it would be like if he came over here and tried to do what he has done over there at a ballpark near you. You're a baseball fan so you likely read his otherworldly stats from Nippon Professional Baseball. You probably then chuckled at the name Nippon-Ham Fighters. Through it all, as you thirsted for any and all information you could get on this phenom from thousands of miles away, you probably always wondered what he could do in the Major Leagues.
Tonight, the mystery will be revealed. And after years of anticipation, hype, lore and myth-making Yu Darvish will pitch in a big league baseball game. And he will do so as a Texas Ranger. I would have watched, with gusto, Yu Darvish the Atlanta Brave or Yu Darvish the Los Angeles Dodger or Yu Darvish the Toronto Blue Jay. Instead, thanks to years of planning from the front office that made our years of distant yearning seem hilarious in retrospect, he will be Yu Darvish the Texas Ranger. Every time I think about that fact I get baseball-giddy.
There's going to be three games after tonight's game and they will all be Rangers vs. Mariners games. None of them will have Felix Hernandez pitching. So, basically, none of them matter all that much. Tonight's game doesn't even matter all that much. Except it's the one you've been waiting for since the first time you heard the name Yu Darvish.
Wednesday, April 11 7:05: RHP Kevin Millwood vs. RHP Colby Lewis
Thursday, April 12 1:05: LHP Jason Vargas vs. LHP Derek Holland
Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the first place (!) Seattle Mariners (2011 stats):
- Hector Noesi: 2-2, 7.19 K/9, 3.51 BB/9, .331 BABIP, 73.8% LOB, 4.09 FIP, 4.02 xFIP, 0.3 WAR
- Yu Darvish: MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT
Advantage: Hector Noesi has nearly as much big league experience as Yu Darvish. Yu Darvish has the advantage of being Yu Darvish at least.
- Blake Beavan: 5-6, 3.90 K/9, 1.39 BB/9, .280 BABIP, 73.7% LOB, 4.46 FIP, 4.45 xFIP, 0.7 WAR
- Neftali Feliz (stats as relief pitcher): 2-3 7.80 K/9, 4.33 BB/9, .232 BABIP, 75.3% LOB, 3.57 FIP, 4.27 xFIP, 1.0 WAR
Advantage: Beavan's strike out rate is nearly as hilarious as Feliz's walk rate from last season. Feliz has the talent to be leagues better than Beavan but this will be his first Major League start of his career.
- Kevin Millwood: 4-3, 5.96 K/9, 1.33 BB/9, .290 BABIP, 74.9% LOB, 4.30 FIP, 3.55 xFIP, 0.7 WAR
- Colby Lewis: 14-10, 7.59 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, .265 BABIP, 73.0% LOB, 4.54 FIP, 4.10 xFIP, 2.3 WAR
Advantage: It's Young Kevin Millwood against Old Colby Lewis. Advantage Young Kevin Millwood, I'd say.
- Jason Vargas: 10-13, 5.87 K/9, 2.64 BB/9, .285 BABIP, 68.7% LOB, 4.09 FIP, 4.45 xFIP, 2.4 WAR
- Derek Holland: 16-5, 7.36 K/9, 3.05 BB/9, .305 BABIP, 72.8% LOB, 3.94 FIP, 3.76 xFIP, 3.6 WAR
Advantage: Mustaches > The horrible things Jason Vargas' eyes have seen.
Seattle Mariners (3-1, 1st Place AL West)
Rangers 2011 Record vs. Seattle: 15-4
Seattle's Recent Results: 3-1 against the Oakland A's
Seattle's Road Record: 3-1 (28-50 in 2011)
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Park Factors (last season) (LHB/RHB): HR: 119/114 - wOBA: 103/107
SB Nation Mariners Blog: Lookout Landing
|Match-up: (as of 04/08)||Rangers||Mariners||Advantage|
|Batting (RAR)||-2.5 (22nd)||0.0 (11th)||Unimportant|
|Base Running (RAR)||NO DATA||NO DATA||?|
|Starters (RAR)||LET'S GET ONCE||THROUGH THE ROTATIONS||?|
|Bullpen (RAR)||1.1 (10th)||-0.1 (19th)||DOMINATION|
|Defense (UZR)||NO DATA||NO DATA||?|
|Overall (UZR + RAR)||I AM NOT||ADDING THIS UP YET||Rangers (?)|
Questions to Answer:
- It's the year 2022, what was your favorite Yu Darvish memory?
- Who is your pick to lead the Rangers in allowing runners to advance an extra base on a shallow base hit to the outfield in this series? (I'm going to go with Baylor product and Texan favorite David Murphy on this one, you guys.)
- Over/Under: 11.5 strike-outs of Mariner batters that Yu Darvish will record in tonight's baseball contest?
- How many home runs will Elvis Andrus and Ichiro hit combined this year?
- Seriously, why does Jason Vargas always look like he's been a witness to a grisly murder?