Temptation is always highest when mystery shrouds the subject. Rarely is the fulfillment worth the bewilderment, but there are always exceptions. Meet Yu Darvish, the lanky, 6’5” 22-year-old phenom who doubles as one of the Japanese team’s aces. A baseball site without a single mention of Darvish is about as common as the dodo bird. Darvish is more than the new Daisuke Matsuzaka, he’s the new Sidd Finch.
Except Darvish actually breathes.
While the results were shaky early on, Darvish flashed fine velocity. Seven consecutive fastballs opened the game with an average velocity just shy of 95 miles per hour. Darvish would top out at 96.9 MPH, but failed to see his velocity drop too much as he reached the 85 pitch mark. Darvish’s final 10 fastballs recorded an average of 92.95 MPH.
Although Darvish did throw 42 two-seam fastballs, he also threw a pitch that registered as a four seamer and a cutter. Throw in an unhittable slider and curveball, and Darvish has most pitchers his age beat in both quantity and quality. Here’s a look at Darvish’s stuff by movement:
Let’s focus in on that slider. Darvish tossed it 18 times an had the following results: ball, ball, ball, ball, called strike, called strike, called strike, ball, ball, hit, swinging strike, called strike, in play out, ball, called strike, swinging strike, swinging strike, and finally swinging strike. That’s 4/18 swinging strikes, or 22% total, and of those who actually dared to swing, Darvish recorded 4/6 whiffs, or nearly 70%.
Why was Darvish’s slider so untouchable? Harry Pavlidis – one of the best PitchFx imagery creators around – created a pair of flight paths showing Darvish’s pitches from an overhead and first base view. Both of those images can be viewed here. Pretty much everything bends or breaks in tantalizing fashion.
Yes, it’s only 85 pitches, but Darvish looked every bit as good as advertised.