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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I'm an avid sports and movie fan, and I love statistical analysis of almost anything.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Whirling Darvish Comes to Town

Monday night, the one that got away showed up at the party and looked fantastic. The Jays were, allegedly, in the thick of the race to sign Yu Darvish from Japan this summer, but in the end they were outbid by the Texas Rangers. After some early rockiness, the import is carving up American would-be-hitters (Yankees included).

Over 7 innings, Darvish showed the fans of Toronto (and other people who were just plain interested in the event) what the Jays missed out on when they didn't pony up. 

I've watched Darvish pitch before, and when his location is on, he's nearly unhittable. Mind you, Edwin Encarnacion showed that you can square up his fastball when you wait on it and he leaves it over the plate, just like any other pitcher in baseball (FYI, that was the first HR Darvish has given up in his 5 starts thus far). But that was the extent of the Jays success swinging at the ball.

The umpire's strike-zone was a tad generous down and away to right-handed batters, but it wasn't anything to get up in arms over (Bautista seemed a little miffed, but that could also be because for the first time in ~2 years he is ice-cold at the plate). Mixing in a dizzying array of fastballs, off-speed stuff, and crazy-breaking-junk, Darvish put up filthy - standard and advanced - stats.

Here are some of the statistical highlights:

63 strikes to 33 balls
21 first-pitch strikes to 27 batters
Jays swung at 44 pitches, merely fouled 14 of them, and entirely missed 14 others...insane...
9 strikeouts in 7 innings (11.57 K/9IP)
3 singles (1 was well-hit, 2 were not)
3 total well hit balls (1 HR, 1 line out, and one that went for the aforementioned single)

Left only to dream about what may have been, Jays ownership can take solace in the fact that there were less than 25,000 fans in the stands to see Yu at work.  On the other hand, I'm confident that Jays coaches and players would love to have Darvish spinning his magic in their uniform. 

***I can't let it go unsaid that Kyle Drabek was pretty darn good too. He continues to give up too many hard hit balls, though. His luck so far this season with men in scoring position has been unsustainable, and the Rangers had a couple loud outs. The final out Drabek recorded was a warning-track bomb to center off the bat of Mike Napoli, for instance. Texas is a great hitting team, though, as reliever Crawford discovered soon after taking over for Drabek, so Drabek still gets the nod for going 6 innings strong on a night when he new he'd have to be at his best thanks to the hitters he was facing and the guy throwing for the other team.***

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