The Whirling Darvish
By: Kyle Volp, Community Relations Assistant
In a few days my unquenchable thirst for baseball and its traditions will be satiated once more. I’m talking about tailgating. I’m talking about the gleefully endless archives of player and team statistics. I’m talking about sharing a six pack of Millers with my college buddy on opening day, a tradition never missed in five years going so far as to conduct 2010’s meeting via Skype while he was studying in Spain. And, not unlike everyone else who shares my obsession with The Show, I’m excited to see how offseason moves will change the fortunes of certain organizations and this year is chock full of them. Pujols to the Angels. Fielder to the Tigers. The new look Miami Marlins. And perhaps the biggest headliner of them all, Yu Darvish, the 25 year old hurler considered to be Japan’s best pitcher boasting an eight pitch arsenal whom the Rangers paid $51.7 million just to talk to about signing a contract. The amount of money Texas is throwing at this guy is enough to turn a lot of heads his direction but will he pan out the way everybody hopes he will?
In three Spring Training starts this year Darvish’s numbers have been decently decent. He has pitched a total of nine innings and posted an ERA of 3.00, a WHIP of 1.44, with 10 K’s, 7 walks and one hit batsmen. He has only given up six hits and three earned runs, one of which to fellow countryman and current Milwaukee Brewer Norichika Aoki. (That last note was completely unimportant and irrelevant I just like plugging my team whenever I get the chance and I’m glad a Japanese player has joined the Boys in Brew). Darvish’s numbers right now don’t scream “dangerous” as they rarely will for any player in Spring Training because, hey it’s Spring Training but his potential for success is what’s really scary due to the eight pitches he isn’t afraid to use at any moment. Sure, most pitchers can throw a variety of pitches but usually narrow it down to three or four they can say are their bread and butter. But eight? That’s at least a half a loaf of bread and a whole stick of butter for Darvish. He’s got a decent fastball at around 94 mph, a mean swing and miss splitter, a slider in the high 80’s complemented by a slower slurve pitch with a higher break point, and isn’t afraid to throw curveballs, changeups, and a ground out cutter in there either. For those keeping track at home I’ve only listed seven pitches. Perhaps his eighth is the elusive gyroball. Who cares, seven is still nuts.
I’ve looked forward to a pitcher’s first start several times in the past. I can’t say I ever watched an entire Nationals game (if they weren’t playing the Brewers) before Stephen Strasburg’s EPIC debut and of course the first time CC pitched for Milwaukee. But I’ve developed a recent fascination with Japanese players in the MLB that makes me really look forward to the Darvish debut. Baseball just seems so different over there. It’s as though the game I love dearly evolved into distinct species who share a common ancestor that emerged somewhere around 1860 AD and I love to see these close relatives meet face to face. I hope it isn’t so different that Yu doesn’t experience the same success he did in Japan, but if that’s the case, maybe they’ll send him all the way down to the Rangers Class A affiliate and my new place of work, the Hickory Crawdads. It’s quite the pipe dream and most definitely won’t happen, but man would I love to see this guy in action.
Kyle starts his first year with the Hickory Crawdads as a community relations assistant after recently graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a double major in Radio, TV, and Film and Psychology. He is a proud born and raised small town Wisconsinite, diehard fan of the Packers, Badgers, and Brewers, and is also an avid film aficionado. In Kyle’s free time, he enjoys cheering on his teams with friends, meeting new people, playing sports, watching movies, growing facial hair, and dominating eating challenges.