Folks are starting to take sides on the Yu Darvish question, and I’m declaring my side right now. If the playoffs were to begin next week, and if it were up to me, Yu Darvish would not have a place in the starting rotation. Right now I would give that spot to Hyun-Jin Ryu.
That said, the playoffs don’t start next week. There’s still time for Darvish and the Dodgers to fix whatever it is that currently ails him. Is it psychological? We’d almost never know if that’s the case.
Is it physical? Darvish recently spent time on the 10-day disabled list with back tightness. If he’s in pain, he’s not telling us.
Is it bad mechanics? Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt believes the trouble is an altered release point that must be recalibrated, so to speak.
Whatever it is, the baseball clock is running. The good news is, there’s enough time to figure things out and restore Darvish to the pitcher the Dodgers were hoping to receive when they traded for him. That is, IF it’s fixable.
Since joining the team, Darvish has pitched one good game (his first), and he’s rapidly devolved since then. After four more starts, he’s only pitched 19 innings, allowed 13 runs, and given up six home runs. Last night in San Diego was his shortest stint to date. Darvish looked as if the Dodgers had suited me up and shoved me out on the mound: he was uncomfortable and his pitching was horrible.
Darvish lasted only three innings. He surrendered five runs, eight hits, three walks, and gave up the lead twice. Darvish actually began the fourth inning, but after he allowed the first two Padres to reach base, the skipper had seen enough, and Darvish’s shortest day as a Dodger was over.
I wanted Yu Darvish back when the Dodgers acquired him. I still want him to help lead the Dodgers through the postseason. But that’s just not going to happen unless some major changes take place.
“There’s a gap between what I’m thinking in my mind and what I’m actually doing on the mound,” he said. “If I fix that, I feel I can pitch much better. As an example, sometimes I crow step too much to the third-base side but in my mind I’m stepping toward first-base side. It’s got me off course. Say you think you are walking straight, but you actually aren’t and you’re trying to fix it, that’s frustrating, right? It’s the same thing.” – Yu Darvish
You see…it’s easy as pie and he’ll be right as rain in no time.
Lots of folks out there are declaring the Darvish experiment over. I’m not there yet. I’ve got faith in the Dodgers blue magic, and even more in Honeycutt magic. The only question is: Can they solve the Darvish question in time for the playoffs?
I’m not voting Darvish off Post Season Island, and neither will the Dodgers. Yu Darvish is going to be on that roster, and the Dodgers will keep him in the starting rotation (barring anything catastrophic), and there’s two ways that happens:
- Yu Darvish solves his pitching problems and all is well again.
- Darvish doesn’t solve his problems and the Dodgers blindly bring him along to the postseason on faith alone.
Unfortunately, Number 2 is a very real possibility. If that happens, hold on to your red mitts. If you think the playoff atmosphere is tense and high wire, you haven’t seen anything yet.