Yu Darvish is truly coming into his own in his second year in the majors. The Texas Rangers starter was an out away from throwing a perfect game against the Houston Astros in his first start of the season. He struck out 14 that game, which set the tone for the rest of the month. Darvish has posted double-digit strikeout totals in his last two starts, giving him an MLB-leading 49 for the season. He has faced the Angels and Mariners twice since beating the Astros, and he has given up three runs in one start to each while pitching a six-inning shutout in the other starts.
Watching Darvish against the Angels on Wednesday, it was unreal to see the array of nasty pitches he has. He kept batters off balance with a four-seem and two-seam fastball that he moved in or out, a hard curveball, and a slow, looping curve ball. He also has a splitter and cutter.
In the amazing GIF seen above, Reddit user DShep shows Darvish throwing five pitches at once to Albert Pujols. You can see his two-seam fastball (the one that moves inside), the four-seam fastball (the actual pitch caught by the catcher), his slow curve that crosses the outside corner, and his slider and hard curve that both move off the outside corner.
When Darvish is commanding those pitches like he did on Wednesday, it’s almost unfair how many weapons he has to defeat foes. He was routinely throwing his fastball in the mid-90s, then he would throw that insane hard curve that dives down and away at only 7-8 mph slower. And on top of moving the ball in and out, he mixed speeds brilliantly. He struck out Luis Jimenez and Mike Trout on his big, slow curveball that clocked around 61-64 mph (seen below):
When you have to stay ready for that many pitches, at that many speeds, and in that many locations, it’s extremely difficult to hit.
Before his rookie season, the Texas Rangers said they were planning to cut down on Darvish’s seven-pitch repertoire. Aren’t we glad they didn’t?
Below is a key that helps you understand the GIF at the top that shows him throwing five pitches: