Yu Darvish GIF shows his array of incredibly nasty pitches

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):

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Yu Darvish says he voted for Jake Peavy for All-Star Game

Yu Darvish received 7.3 million votes to win the fan vote and final spot on the American League All-Star team, but the Japanese pitcher says he actually voted for another player.

“I know that I mentioned not being worthy a few days ago,” he said through interpreter Joe Furukawa, according to The Dallas Morning News. “But now that I’m selected, what it means to me now, is that if I get a chance to compete I want to put the best effort forward that I can. But, personally, I voted for Jake Peavy.

“To be selected by the fans like this, it is very much an honor and I’m very appreciative of it.”

As the above quote mentions, Darvish said earlier in the week that he didn’t feel like he deserved a spot on the All-Star team. The fans felt otherwise.

The Japanese rookie is tied for second in the AL in wins with 10, third with 117 strikeouts, and 14th with a 3.59 ERA. Peavy, a former Cy Young winner, is sixth with a 2.96 ERA, 8th with 101 strikeouts, and 4th with a 0.99 WHIP. Darvish’s 10-5 record is better than Peavy’s 6-5 mark.

It’s debatable who deserved the All-Star selection more between the two pitchers (I’d lean Peavy), but Darvish certainly was worthy of the honor. Regardless, we appreciate the humble nature of his comments. Between Yu and Bryce Harper, we’re seeing some classy comments from rookies lately.

Yu Darvish look-alike fan spotted at Angels game (Pictures)

Which one is the real Yu Darvish? If you said the one on the right because he looks like he’s in the middle of an actual baseball game and doesn’t have a jersey that reads “Minivish” on the back of it, fair enough. If you said the one on the right because you can tell by the face, you’re lying. The photo on the left that you see above was passed along to us by Beto Duran of ESPN Radio in Los Angeles. Apparently this Darvish lookalike was roaming the stands at the Rangers-Angels game in Anaheim on Friday night.

If this Brett Favre impersonator can fool people in Green Bay and this guy can cause a stir in Seattle, the Yu look-alike deserves an award or something. Bravo.

Photo credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

‘Yu Dog’ highlights a night of cultural insensitivity for Yu Darvish’s debut

After a rough start in which he gave up five runs in the first two innings against the Mariners, Yu Darvish settled down nicely in his Rangers debut on Monday night. Texas rallied back and got Darvish the win after he managed to go 5 2/3 innings, allowing no runs after the second inning. As most of you probably expected, the evening was also highlighted by a solid amount of cultural insensitivity.

For starters, there is the sign you see in the photo above. The phrase “We love Yu long time” has also found its way onto t-shirts and other merchandise, none of which to our knowledge is sold by the Rangers themselves.

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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.

Rangers Win Bidding for Yu Darvish, Maintain Strong Rotation

If the Rangers seemed so unconcerned with losing C.J. Wilson in free agency, it’s probably because they knew they were going to make a strong play for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. Texas won the bidding for Darvish by posting a record $51.7 million for the right to negotiate with him. They have 30 days to agree on a contract, and they will likely spend at least a total of $100 million. It’s hard to say it won’t be worthwhile.

Darvish is young (25 years old), tall (6’5″), and his stats were more impressive than any other Japanese pitcher who played in MLB. Darvish was 18-6 with a league-best 1.44 ERA and 276 strikeouts last season. He’s had five straight seasons with a sub-2.00 ERA. He was 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA in his Japanese career.

The Angels spent less money for Wilson than the Rangers did for Darvish, but I’d rather have Yu. It’s true that he’s unproven in America, but his Japanese numbers and success at the World Baseball Classic make me believe he will be greater than Wilson. Rangers fans will also be happy to hear that Darvish’s Japan stats were much better than Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideo Nomo, and Kei Igawa. This was a nice pull by Texas, though the adjustment to pitching in Arlington and in the bigs won’t be easy.

Our Alan Hull wrote this Yu Darvish scouting report two years ago in case you’re interested in reading more about the Japanese stud.

Japanese Baseball Star Yu Darvish to MLB in 2012 (Scouting Report)

The 2011 MLB hot stove is beginning to heat up and and we will cover it in depth, but looking ahead to 2012, Japanse baseball star Yu Darvish plans to pitch in MLB in 2012 (tweets David Lennon via MLBTR). Darvish, the 6’5” half-Japanese, half-Iranian pitcher has already won the Eiji Sawamura Award, the Japanese Professional Baseball (NPB) equivalent of the Cy Young Award.  He’s also won two MVP awards and will only be 25 when he is posted.  I wrote a scouting report of Darvish a year ago, which I will reprint here:

Darvish first gained star-status when he led his high school to the Koshien national high school baseball tournament — an event comparable in popularity to NCAA March Madness — as a sophomore and pitched a no-hitter as a senior in 2004.  However, because of his mixed racial makeup, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters were the only team to try to acquire him in the NPB amateur draft. Former MLB skipper Bobby Valentine, who managed in the NPB, said of the discrimination, “My scouting director here didn’t think he was what our fans really would like to root for…that scouting director is no longer with us.” Darvish’s race has long since been forgotten as he has risen to rock star-like fame in Japan.

Darvish debuted in the NPB in 2005 and has compiled a 75-32 record with a 2.12 ERA in six professional seasons, striking out 974 and walking 297 in 1036.1 innings of work.  He is a proven workhorse with 45 complete games during that span.

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