Yu Darvish's third start: good, not great
Yu Darvish showed improvement against the Tigers on Thursday night, but the Rangers' right-hander is still struggling with his command.
The rookie season of Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish has thus far entailed lots of walks and bits of incremental progress. Darvish struggled badly in his first start of the season, struggled somewhat less badly in his second start and then impressed in his third start, a 10-3 thumping of the Tigers on Thursday.
To put a finer point on it, Darvish's game scores (a Bill James metric designed to gauge a starting pitcher's dominance in a given outing) have increased from 34 in his first start to 45 in his second start to 65 against the Tigers. Obviously, that's progress.
The walks are still a problem (after Thursday's win, he now has 13 in 17.2 innings), as are the resulting high pitch counts. As well, Darvish still isn't getting many swinging strikes, which, as noted after his previous start, is perhaps a source of concern.
The real takeaway, though, is that Darvish, besides allowing only one run and just two hits against a powerhouse Detroit offense, continued to show positive signs in terms of his greatest weakness to date: throwing strikes. Over the course of young season, Darvish's start-by-start strike percentages are 53.6%, 58.8% and 57.9%. If Darvish hadn't worked part of the seventh on Thursday night when he seemed to be out of gas, then you'd see an even clearer upward progression to those numbers.
Methodically, Darvish is getting better.