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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Yu Darvish has seven pitches but Rangers plan to cut it down

The Rangers willingly let C.J. Wilson leave via free agency, likely because they knew all along they would be serious bidders for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. Texas landed Darvish by bidding over $51 million for the right to negotiate with him, and then they signed him to a six-year $56 million deal.

Not unlike many other Japanese pitchers, Darvish comes to MLB with a strong pitching repertoire. The 6’5″ right hander throws seven pitches — a two-seam and four-seam fastball, cutter, slider, curve, changeup and split-finger fastball. Texas plans to pare that down to three or four because they consider it excessive and want him to cut down on the practice necessary to keep all the pitches sharp.

In Japan, pitchers generally throw around 200 pitches when doing their side work in between starts. MLB pitchers throw maybe a quarter or a fifth of that amount. In order to conserve his arm and limit the amount of pitches he throws, while allowing him to master his best pitches, they’ll have to convince him to drop a few pitches.

Daisuke Matsuzaka faced the same issue when he came to the Red Sox from Japan. People boasted that he threw eight or nine pitches, including the heavily hyped gyroball. His repertoire was pared and he ended up clashing with the team about the care of his arm and much more.

Hopefully Darvish’s transition to MLB will be much smoother; it already looks like it will. Catcher Mike Napoli said after a batting practice session last week that Darvish threw seven pitches “And he threw every pitch with a quality to get guys out in a game.”

That type of hype leaves me excited to watch him pitch. I’m on record saying I would have preferred the Angels paid over $100 million for Darvish than $67.5 million for C.J. Wilson.

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