Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish (11) pitches against the Colorado Rockies during the sixth inning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Can you imagine what it would be like if Yu Darvish were making his debut on Monday, and we had absolutely no idea what to expect? In a general sense, we still don't have any idea what to expect when it comes to his performance this year. But we already have PITCHf/x analysis of his first spring start, articles describing his repertoire and pitch selection, and all sorts of different angles about his last (impressive) start of the spring.
It's a shame that Darvish can't just appear on the mound in a puff of smoke, WWE-style, wearing a mask and preening for the crowd. Instead, we know that he'll strike a bunch of dudes out. And that his control was a little wonky in spring, but not abhorrently so. And there's all sorts of video on MLB.com of his spring starts if you really want to ruin the surprise.
Now he's ready for his first major-league appearance, and he gets to face the Seattle Mariners, who are forever likely to be the first Major League Baseball team to punt in a regular-season game. Even if Darvish dominates, there will be the Mariners-related caveat. It's always tough to separate the Rogers Clemens from the Rogers Pavlik when it comes to pitchers who dominate the Mariners.
So what to expect from Monday's Darvish debut?
Pitches that move a crazy amount
The PITCHf/x analysis up there tells us what YouTube was telling us during the offseason Darvish frenzy: Dude throws pitches with movement. It's going to be fun to watch.
The Seattle Mariners led the 2011 American League in strikeouts. Of course they did. Darvish struck out 21 hitters in 15 spring innings, which didn't do anything to dispel the notion that he'll be a strikeout pitcher.
Snap judgement and analysis that's way too early to be meaningful
I plan on being as guilty as anyone. Remember when Kei Igawa gave up seven earned runs in his debut, and everyone was sure that it meant he wasn't ready for the majors? Yeah, we all looked pretty stup … man, I need to start picking better examples.
Point is, there will be words written about Darvish if he implodes, and there will be words written about Darvish if he succeeds. And if Darvish does simply okay? More words. None of them will give you a great idea of what Darvish's line is going to look like in August, but we can't help ourselves. It's not like we can just ignore the start entirely.
A million billion reporters
An interesting pitcher who will be interesting for a long, long time
He has to be interesting for a long, long time. He's being paid to be an interesting pitcher for a long, long time. So if he succeeds, he'll be interesting. If he flops, he'll be interesting. The Rangers took a huge gamble by committing over $100 million to secure Darvish. And on Monday, we'll get to be interested in him all over again for the first time.
And once he's finished with the Mariners, he'll get his first look at a major-league lineup on Saturday when he faces the ... Twins?
Oh, man. I'm looking forward to a pitcher dominating with ethereal stuff, but I'd be lying if I wasn't curious to watch the Internet explode if the Mariners and Twins absolutely torch him. This is going to be interesting either way.