- Sept. 19, 2022: Darvish was named the MLB NL Player of the week.
The 36-year-old veteran won both of his starts in convincing fashion last week to earn NL honors, striking out 15 over 14 shutout innings to keep the Padres within grasp of a playoff spot.
|DOB:||8/16/1986||Agent:||Wasserman Media Group|
|Birth City:||Habikino, Osaka, Japan|
|Draft:||2012 - Rangers - Free agent - Out of Japan|
|2015||AL||RANGERS - DL||$10,000.00|
Yu's grandfather was a travel agent in Iran and sent his son, Farsad, to the United States in 1977 to attend high school in Massachusetts.
The son of Farsad, an Iranian father, and Ikuyo, a Japanese mother, Darvish was born and raised in Osaka, Japan. He had never lived outside his birth country. But he had traveled to Iran and the United States, where his parents met while studying at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. He remembers his father pushing him toward soccer as a child, but he found something enchanting about the baseball games he saw on television. When he got his first Little League hit, he was hooked.
The Angels and Braves were scouting Darvish as early as when he was in junior high. Darvish had an opportunity to sign with an MLB club coming out of high school, but chose to play in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league instead.
His lanky 6-foot-5-inch build and distinctive facial features would be enough to make him stand out anywhere, but in a homogenous land, a family name that sounded like none other gave him unwanted attention growing up.
“Kids used to say stuff all the time about how I was different,” Darvish said in Japanese, playing down the suggestion that wearing the national team uniform gave him extra satisfaction in light of such teasing. “It hasn’t been an issue since I was little.”
In 2004, the Nippon Ham Fighters selected Darvish in the first round of the draft as a high schooler. By then, he was known across the country for having pitched a no-hitter in the spring version of a prestigious national high school baseball tournament that March. He earned a bad-boy image later for being suspended from high school for smoking a cigarette, illegal for minors here, and posing nude for a magazine in 2007. His devilish laughter at the mention of those incidents is a hint that rebelliousness still lurks within him.
But lost in the commotion over his defiance off the field and his vast natural athleticism on it is an astounding aptitude for pitching mechanics that those who know him describe with the highest admiration.
In 2005, Yu turned pro at age 18. His pro career got off to a rocky start when he was caught smoking in a pachinko parlor on an off day during his first spring training, despite not being old enough to legally smoke or gamble at the time.
After going 5-5 with a 3.53 ERA in his rookie season of 2005 with the Nippon Ham Fighters, Darvish had a breakout year in 2006, going 12-5 with a 2.89 ERA and 115 strikeouts.
In 2006, Darvish earned the Japan Series MVP award in his first full season of pro ball—when he was just 19 years old. Yu won the clincher as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters captured their first championship in 45 years.
In 2007, Yu won the Sawamura Award as Japan's top Major League pitcher.
In August 2007, Darvish acknowledged reports of a relationship with the Japanese actress, Saeko. He also announced that they were planning to get married, and that Saeko was pregnant with their first child. The couple married in November 2007, in what Japanese tabloids reported was a shotgun wedding.
They have two sons, but divorced in 2012. Coincidentally, Darvish's divorce was finalized on the same day that he officially signed with the Texas Rangers.
In August 2008, Yu pitched for Team Japan in the Beijing Olympics.
Then, he was a star for Japan's team in the World Baseball Classic. During the WBC there were rumors Darvish would post, making himself available to sign with an MLB team. But the posting price was rumored to be $10 million, which might be a little tough to come up with in economy-wracked clubs.
In 2012, before Darvish left Japan for Texas, he told a reporter via an interpreter: "I don't need much motivation—I'm never satisfied until I win all the games and have an ERA of 0.00. I want to throw a faster fastball, I want a sharper curve. I want to improve all my pitches."
In 2012, Baseball America rated Darvish as the #1 prospect in the Rangers organization.
While in 2012 spring training, Yu would bounce around from guy to guy, getting to know each teammate. He even learned some Spanish.
During seven seasons in Japan, Darvish achieved rock-star status. He has been in the spotlight so long that he doesn't appear to be the least bit bothered by it in the United States. His poise is apparent right away.
In 2013, Darvish made a $25,000 donation to help support City of Dallas RBI, which allows nearly 2,000 youngsters to participate in organized youth baseball programs.
Darvish doesn't believe in the concept of the ace pitcher. A team's best starting pitcher has the same task as the weakest link of the rotation—to allow fewer runs than the opposing pitcher while working deep into a game—and no one pitcher should be placed on a pedestal above the other four.
"All starting pitchers have the same goal, and it's a unit," Darvish said "I think all the starting pitchers have to support each other."
May 2015 brought a lawsuit in which Alex Witmer, a former personal assistant who was hired to care for Darvish's three dogs, and three birds in Texas. Witmer claimed one of the dogs "jumped up" and bit him on the cheek and upper lip, sending him to the hospital. The lawsuit also alleged that Darvish's management company fired Witmer when he complained.
Two months later, Darvish tweeted that his son had been born. His longtime girlfriend, Seiko Yamamoto, won multiple gold medals for Japan at the world wrestling championships. Yu said that the plan to wed soon.
Then, in October, the lawsuit with his personal assistant was settled. No terms were divulged, and neither side may comment.
Then, just a few weeks later, in October 2015: The 26-year-old younger brother of Darvish was arrested on suspicion of running a gambling ring for profit and gambling on baseball games, police said. Sho Darvish allegedly took around 1,850 bets, each for 10,000 yen (about $90), on results and scores of 16 Major League games and 28 Japanese professional baseball games held between May 12 and 18—via a phone app.
Betting on baseball games is illegal in Japan. Depending on the report, he allegedly collected anywhere from $85,000 to $150,000.
January 19, 2016: Darvish said he is not and has never been involved in gambling activities amid a Major League Baseball investigation after the arrest of his younger brother in Japan. Darvish issued a statement through his agent that says he understands MLB must conduct an investigation.
"I am certain that they will find that I had no involvement in this matter whatsoever," Darvish said in the statement through his representatives at the Wasserman Media Group.
Sho Darvish was arrested in October in Japan for allegedly running an illegal gambling ring that reportedly took about 1,850 bets on MLB games as well as professional baseball games in Japan. The arrest came after an investigation of more than a year.
It was unclear if any bets were taken on games involving the Rangers. The Japan Times said Osaka police have not accused Yu Darvish of any wrongdoing. MLB spokesman Michael Teevan told the Japan Times that the league is aware of situation and looking into it per standard protocols.
In January 2016, Darvish was cleared of any involvement in his brother's alleged gambling activities.
August 24, 2016: Darvish hit his first Major League home run. The exit velocity of Darvish's first career homer was 107 mph, according to Statcast, and the estimated distance was 410 feet. It was the first home run by a Rangers pitcher since Bobby Witt against the Dodgers on June 30, 1997. And Witt's was the first home run ever by an American League pitcher in Interleague Play. (T.R. Sullivan - MLB.com)
Darvish is a huge star in Japan and has appeared on the cover of many of the country's magazines, including GQ. He was named GQ's "Man of the Year" in February 2012. (Kruth - MLB.com - 10/3/2016)
2017: Darvish represented Japan in the World Baseball Classic.
In 2007, Darvish posed for a series of racy photos in a Japanese women's magazine. He was 21 years old at the time.
Darvish was once photographed smoking inside a pachinko parlor, a sort of small casino in Japan. The only problem? He was still in high school, and under the legal age for either smoking or gambling. The photo caused such a stir that Darvish was suspended from high school and not allowed to attend his graduation, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.
Less than a week after getting photographed, two anti-smoking doctors announced they would commission a study on the smoking habits of players from all 12 teams in Nippon Professional Baseball, because, they said, "some may be addicted and need to receive medical treatment." Nice going, Yu.
Yu's father, Farsad, played soccer while attending college in the U.S. and was also a competitive motocross racer. He tried to get his son into both sports, but Yu was not particularly interested, and was drawn more to baseball from an early age.
- January 2015: Darvish has a new girlfriend. In November he tweeted to his 1.24 million followers that he was dating Seiko Yamamoto, a four-time world wrestling champion.
Yu and his wife, Seiko, have three sons. They also have six dogs (Pit Bulls, Can Corsi and mutts) and three sun conure parrots.
The golden rule in his family is to always tell the truth. He reads fitness and nutrition literature, but rarely picks up a book on other subjects. He is obsessed with picking up litter. Since the age of 20, his main charitable cause has been the Yu Darvish Water Fund, which promotes clean water in developing countries.
In 2013, Darvish met Seiko, a 4-time world champion wrestler who Yu insists has "better DNA and physical talent than I do," in Toronto after she tagged along to a lunch with her older sister, a long-time friend of his.
His agent, Joel Wolfe, struggles to name his client's interests outside of baseball. "From what I can see," Seiko says, "he's devoting 24 hours a day to baseball and essentially trying to win the title."
She says Yu is always watching the children; the first adjective she uses to describe him as a parent is "mindful." He is a self-professed homebody. And she can tell when long road trips wear on him. She hears it in his voice over the phone, especially when they discuss the children. (Mike Piellucci - Sports Illustrated - 11/22/2017)
Questions and Answers with mlb.com in Spring Training 2018:
MLB.com: You write a blog—is it for fans?
Darvish: I've been blogging since 2007, mainly for fans in Japan.
MLB.com: Have you gotten a good response?
Darvish: I know a lot of fans in Japan are interested in what I do, like my personal life, so it's a way for me to share those moments with them.
MLB.com: In 2013, you led the American League in strikeouts. Are you a different pitcher now?
Darvish: Generally, I like to say I'm the same pitcher, but in terms of walks, I've walked fewer hitters [each season since then], so in that sense, there's been progression.
MLB.com: You had Tommy John surgery in 2015. Do you feel stronger now?
Darvish: I certainly feel stronger, but there's two years of blank, so in that sense, some part of the feeling of pitching in general has changed. That's something I have to regain.
MLB.com: Fans at 2018 Spring Training games have been chanting "Yuuuu" when you pitch. Are you looking forward to hearing that at Wrigley Field?
Darvish: Wrigley is a great ballpark with a lot of tradition, so I'm looking forward to going there to play.
MLB.com: In 2017, you were the Rangers' Opening Day starter, and this year you're third in the Cubs' rotation. Does that matter?
Darvish: The number doesn't really matter. I may be third, but I may end up pitching in the fifth spot or first spot, depending on how the season progresses. It doesn't really matter. (Muskat - mlb.com - 3/22/2018)
December 4, 2018: What did people do before smartphones? Like, imagine you are the child of a Major League player and you're looking for tips from dear old dad to help improve your game. In the past, if he couldn't make it you were out of luck and you'd have to guess at what tips he'd offer. Fortunately for Yu Darvish's son, he has the ability to send video and get immediate feedback. Check out the video that Darvish's wife, Seiko, took in the cage:
The translated text reads, "Since Daddy cannot come for training, I will send all the videos to my dad. When his advice arrives mama communicates."
Seiko might actually be the better hitting instructor: She's a four-time wrestling champion, while Yu is just 5-for-43 at the plate in his big league career. (M Clair - MLB.com - December 4, 2018)
2019 Improvements: The good news is that the Darvish, who arrived in Mesa, Ariz., this spring, has looked, acted and sounded like an entirely different person. The Japanese star has answered questions in English, without a translator nearby. He said that he feels the best he has in his entire career, and that he is smiling more than he ever has since coming to the big leagues. And he has shown off a quick wit with one-liners in nearly every interview.
"We talked about this very early in camp, how he was showing up with a new attitude, not using a translator," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "He wanted to fully embrace his teammates and the organization and the fans and write a new script. That’s easier said than done, and he’s backed it up with his actions and [he] just looks like someone who’s more comfortable." (Jordan Bastian-MLB.com-Mar. 3, 2019)
Nov. 11, 2019: The Winter of Yu continues. If you’re already itching for more baseball this post-season, Yu Darvish’s social media has got you covered.
Darvish uploaded a video to YouTube of him and a friend playing softball in their driveway, with Darvish throwing lefty.
In the description, Darvish says the throw types are: four seams, two seams, cuts, sliders, curves and change-ups. He also writes that “the control was bad today,” but it’s always cool to see a pro practicing casually at home during the offseason. (Kelly Twardziak - NBC Sports)
Despite being a right-handed pitcher and batter, Darvish has been known to occasionally throw left-handed in the bullpen or when just playing catch at Wrigley. There have been multiple reports that Darvish may be just as solid with his left as he is pitching right. Maybe this casual offseason practice session is a sign that he’ll want to bring more left-handed pitches in 2020.
Yu Darvish is a man of many talents, and, apparently, that includes the ability to correctly guess a person’s blood type based on their personality.
As reported by ESPN’s Jesse Rogers at Chicago Cubs training camp in Mesa, Arizona, the 33-year-old right-handed pitcher isn’t entirely sure how he developed this quirky and unique ability, but according to Darivsh and the others around him, he’s actually quite good at it.
Darvish explained that all it takes is a conversation with someone. By talking, he can evaluate their personality, and that interaction leads him to a certain blood type. (Michelle R. Martinelli - Mar. 11, 2020)
In 2020, Darvish did not win the NL Cy Young, but the Cubs pitcher did get some good news.
Darvish learned that his runner-up finish came with some financial gain, and he now plans to help others with his unexpected salary increase.
Darvish posted on Twitter in Japanese that he was surprised to learn from his agent that he would be earning an additional $1 million in each of the next three seasons. The Cubs' ace wrote that he will donate a portion to charity, but the amount and where it will go are to be determined. (J Bastian - MLB.com - Nov 12, 2020)
July 2021: Darvish was chosen to represent the Padres in the All-Star Game.
Aug 23-26, 2022: Yu was on the paternity list.
Sept 19, 2022: Yu was named NL Player of the Week. The San Diego right-hander allowed only three hits and one walk across 14 innings as he notched road victories against the Mariners and D-backs.
Darvish’s start in Seattle may have been his best of the season as he sailed through eight scoreless innings on just 94 pitches while striking out seven. Five days later, Darvish confounded the D-backs as he tossed six shutout frames, permitted only three baserunners and struck out eight. (B Murphy - MLB.com - Sept 19, 2022)
2011: After the Japanese season, the Nippon Ham Fighters posted Darvish.
December 19, 2011: The Rangers had the winning bid of $51,703,411.
January 18, 2012: Darvish signed with the Rangers for a six-year, $56 million contract.
July 31, 2017: The Rangers traded Darvish to the Dodgers for OF Willie Calhoun, RHP A.J. Alexy, and SS Brendon Davis.
November 2, 2017: Darvish chose free agency.
February 10, 2018: The Cubs and Darvish agreed to a six-year deal worth $126 million (with the capability of pushing the number to $150 million). It is by far the biggest contract signed among that year's free agents.
- Dec 28, 2020: The Cubs traded RHP Yu Darvish and C Victor Caratini to the Padres; acquiring RHP Zach Davies, SS Reginald Preciado (Padres’ No. 11 prospect per MLB Pipeline), OF Owen Caissie (No. 13), OF Ismael Mena (No. 15), and SS Yeison Santana (No. 16)
- The Padres’ vaunted rotation is a particularly close-knit group, and Darvish warrants much of the credit. He has laughed at himself after the other starters, in a moment that went viral, played a cheeky game of follow-the-leader. He has helped arrange team dinners. He has quickly warmed to a new manager in Bob Melvin, a new pitching coach in Niebla and a new personal catcher in Austin Nola. As always, he has asked questions and imparted knowledge of his own. The difference from the first half of his career lies in the volume of conversation. (Lin-TheAthletic.com- June 14th, 2022)
Darvish has both a 90-95 mph two-seam SINKER, and a 92-98 mph four-seam FASTBALL He can CUT his fastball at 88-90 mph, has an 87-90 mph SPLITTER and also has a devastating sinking 81-84 mph SLIDER, excellent late rotation on his 72-75 mph CURVEBALL, will show a 69-72 mph slow curveball, and has an 87-89 mph CHANGEUP. That is six pitches!
His heater plays up because it has quality life and he has excellent command. And he can also cut it. He actually has two versions of his curve: a harder version that gets swings-and-misses, and a slower version to get ahead in the count. He keeps hitters guessing. (Spring, 2018)
His tentacle-like limbs gave way to an exaggerated, sweeping pitching motion when he first turned pro as he tried to wind his long arms and legs through the twists of his delivery. His motion, while inefficient from a physics standpoint, produces impressive baseball results.
Darvish stands tall in his delivery and possesses good athleticism that allows him to consistently repeat his delivery and command his pitches.
"I'm a big guy, right?” he said, extending his arms. “But I began to realize that by actually using my body like a big guy, I couldn’t control my pitches the way I wanted to. I could throw the ball hard, but at this level if you’re not accurate, it’s easy for batters to light you up with home runs. That’s when I started concentrating on making my movements more compact. It just seemed to me that smaller movements would produce the kind of pitching I desired.” (Brad Lefton-NY Times-2/19/2009)
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam fastball 42.3 percent of the time; Sinker 17.3% of the time; changeup 2.1%; Slider 17%; Curve 9.7%; Cutter 9.3%; and his slow curve 2.4% of the time.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam fastball 35 percent of the time; Sinker 16.4% of the time; changeup 1.7%; Slider 25%; Curve 5.7%; Cutter 15.9%; Split .5% of the time.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 37.8% of the time, his Sinker 17.8%; Change 2.3%; Slider 23.5%; Curve 3.1%; Cutter 13.4%; Split 1.9%; and Slow Curve less than 1% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 95 mph, Sinker 94.1, Changeup 90.2, Slider 85, Curve 76, Cutter 90, Split 90.9, and Slow Curve 64.6 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 25.9% of the time, his Sinker 8.8%; Change 3.1%; Slider 45.1%; Curve 6.4%; Cutter 5.1%; Split 5.3%; and Slow Curve less than 1% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94.4 mph, Sinker 94.5, Changeup 90.8, Slider 85.2, Curve 77.3, Cutter 91.3, Split 88.9, and Slow Curve 68.8 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 16.6% of the time, his Sinker 9.5%; Change 2%; Slider 46%; Curve 14.5%; Cutter 5%; Split 5.7%; and Slow Curve less than 1% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 96 mph, Sinker 95.1, Changeup 90, Slider 85.5, Curve 79, Cutter 92.6, Split 90.5, and Slow Curve 70.5 mph.
April 3, 2013: Darvish retired the first 26 batters he faced before coming up one out short of a perfect game.
July 30, 2013: For the fourth time in 2013, Darvish had a 14-strikeout game, passing Nolan Ryan for the most times accomplishing the feat in a season in Texas Rangers history. Darvish recorded double-digit punch-out's for the 16th time in his career. And he fell two short of tying the franchise record for most strikeouts in a game, twice done by Ryan. Darvish is the first pitcher with four 14-K games in a season since Randy Johnson in 2004.
In 2013, Yu finished second in the AL Cy Young voting to Max Scherzer of the Tigers.
In 2013, Darvish lead the Major Leagues in strikeouts, with 277. That was the most since Randy Johnson in 2004 (290).
"He's got so many pitches that you can pick any one you want to throw at any time," A.J. Pierzynski said in 2013. "It's not like he has two pitches, this one or that one. I mean, you might want a 94-mile-an-hour split-finger instead of a 97-mile-an-hour fastball or a 60-mile-an-hour curveball. That's when it's difficult to get on the same page because he's got so many weapons."
Darvish lost two no hitters with two outs in the ninth inning in his time with the Rangers. The first came on April 13, 2013, on the road against the Astros. He lost a perfect game and a no-hitter at the same time. The second was on May 9, 2014, in Arlington against the Red Sox.
Darvish is one of only three pitchers in MLB history to have a no-hitter broken up with two outs in the ninth inning on two separate occasions, according to ESPN. The other two are the Washington Senators' Bill Burns (1908 and 1909) and the Blue Jays' Dave Stieb (1988).
April 6, 2014: Darvish set a Major League record by striking out the first two batters he faced. The two strikeouts gave Darvish 500 for his career in 402 innings. He became the fastest pitcher as a starter to ever reach 500 strikeouts as far as number of innings it took to get there. Kerry Wood held the old record by doing it in 404 2/3 innings. Mark Prior did it in 421 2/3 innings. And Stephen Strasburg did so in 426 innings.
June 11, 2014: Yu pitched the first shutout by a Texas righty since Alexi Ogando blanked the Chicago White Sox in May 2011. And with his 24th career game with at least 10 strikeouts, Darvish is tied for the second most in club history behind Nolan Ryan, who has 34.
September 8, 2017: With six strikeouts in the Dodgers' 5-4 loss to the Rockies, Yu Darvish became the fastest pitcher in Major League history to reach 1,000 strikeouts, in both games and innings. Darvish accomplished the feat by striking out Carlos Gonzalez on an 84-mph slider for the first out of the fourth inning, the 812th inning of his career. The righthander was appearing in his 128th game. Both marks topped former Cubs ace Kerry Wood, who reached 1,000 Ks in 134 games and 853 innings. (J Thornton - MLB.com - September 9, 2017)
Yu is able to locate his pitches extremely well. He has excellent command. You would have a hard time finding any pitcher with as exceptional control of every pitch in his repertoire as Darvish has.
His delivery is the same until the ball leaves his hand—then one baseball morphs into five that shoot off in different directions, like fireworks.
Asked how it felt to be up against that arsenal, Jason Giambi said, "Like facing David Copperfield. He will throw something at you and it would disappear, and you would say, 'There's no way that happened. Show me how you did that,'" Giambi said.
Yu's critics want more first-pitch strikes, lower pitch counts in the early innings and, in general, more consistency. He is naturally analytical and relishes combing through data to figure out a hitter's weaknesses. (Mike Pillucci - Sports Illustrated - 11/22/2017)
Most starters work with three effective pitches; some of the better ones can mix in a fourth. According to Fangraps,
You throws eight different pitches: a 4-seam fastball, cutter, curveball, slow curve, sinker, slider, change-up, and splitter. Eight pitches. All effective. And most with crazy movement.
In 2017, the difference in velocity between his fastball (94 mph) and curveball (73 mph) was 21 mph.
"Hitting-wise, he's hard to time." Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said. "You have to get the right timing because he starts leaking, and he throws 94-95 mph. His breaking balls are some of the best I've ever seen."
Hitters generally have no idea what's coming because he has the ability to make everything look the same. It's very difficult when you're a hitter and they're all coming out the same, and, at the end, the last couple of feet, they decide to take a left turn or stay true and straight. (Gary Cohen - Cubs Vine Line - April, 2018)
Darvish has pitches that change every season. He has the ability to grasp how his body's movements affect his pitching performance. He can tweak his mechanics during a game without even watching video.
Some people think Darvish could actually end up being one of the best pitchers in the history of the game of baseball.
Yu has said that he can hit 82 mph on the radar gun … with his left hand. While warming up, Darvish likes throwing lefthanded in order to maintain his balance and keep both arms strong.
In 2018, Yu had an amazing 29.7 percent strikeout rate. That is the best K-rate for any pitcher, minimum of 100 starts, in Major League history! That's better than Clayton Kershaw. Better than Randy Johnson. And better than Nolan Ryan!
In 2017, Darvish had the 25th-best spin rate of 2,516 RPH. Spin rate is one of those secondary skills that can help save a pitcher when is locations isn't at its best and elevate performance to a higher plane when he's in command of all his pitches.
2018 Improvements: Darvish eliminated the double leg pump during his delivery.
Best pitch: Yu Darvish's curveball. How he uses it: sparingly. Everyone know Darvish has a big curveball—almost an eephus pitch—but he keeps it in his back pocket most of the time in favor of the fastball, slider, cut fastball, split-finger and changeup. So hitters know he can throw a curve, but they can't sit on it because it rarely comes their way.
What they say about it: Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey said. "It is effective because it is a little bit of an ambush, if you will. I think it could be an effective part of his repertoire. For me, personally, we've been trying to simplify it a little bit, just by doing a little bit less versus trying to work six pitches into the mix. There's certainly a spot for the curveball. There have been times in his career when it was his put-away pitch."
- 2019 Improvements: Consider a recent sixth inning a test drive for Darvish, who provided an enticing look at an extra weapon that could permanently return to his arsenal.
Darvish clocked 98.7 mph on his final pitch—a two-seamer—that hit Lewis Brinson and the home-plate umpire.
It's a pitch that he hadn't yet thrown in 2019 but had been working on in bullpens between starts, an offering that will allow him, as Darvish explained, to "mix it up," and make things less predictable.
"I remember during the game, our staff brought it up and then it showed up," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said the next day. "Yu looked right in the dugout and [he and the staff] smiled at each other because it was pretty successful."
Here is the breakdown of Darvish's two-seamer usage over the past few seasons:
Darvish turned to his two-seamer 10 times in his recent sixth inning alone, when he flashed upper-90s velocity rather than his typical low-90s. He used the pitch on 21 percent of his total pitch count (96). According to Statcast, of the 20 two-seamers, Darvish got six called strikes, two foul balls, and a 75 mph average exit velocity. (April 15, 2019-Christina De Nicola -MLB.com)
May 15, 2019: Darvish leaned heavily on his cutter (38 out of 102 pitches) and balanced that with his four-seamer (32) and slider (16) as his secondary weapons. Just two starts ago, Darvish featured his sinker 51 times against the Cardinals. He mixed that offering on just eight occasions. One of those was a 97-mph sinker that ran into the upper part of the strike zone in the fifth for Votto's second strikeout of the night.
"If he struggled," Darvish said, "that means I'm good."
The goal of the sinker use against St. Louis was to gain confidence in the pitch for those outings in which the four-seam command is absent. Consider that box checked. The return to more cutters and sliders is Darvish admitting that, as important as it is for him to establish his fastball, the pitches with break are his real strength. That was a point made by Cubs manager Joe Maddon earlier this week.
"What we've seen in the past is that he actually does command the cutter, slider better," Maddon said in the wake of Darvish's previous start against the Marlins. "There's nothing wrong with throwing more of those. There's not a thing wrong with that."
Partially due to the pregame plan, but then also due to seeing how his pitches were working in the early innings, Darvish followed that road map against the Reds.
"It wasn't from my advice to him," Maddon said. "That was just all him, feeding off what he felt today."
Davis added that in-game adjusting is critical for Darvish.
"With him having so many pitches," Davis said, "you've just got to figure out, 'What is the best thing to use that day?'"
Darvish admitted that the various approaches show that he has been searching for the right combination.
"I'm still trying to find my way," he said. "I think my ability is not a fastball and sinker. My ability is slider and cutter."
It marked the first time since Aug. 1, 2013, that Darvish had at least 11 strikeouts with no walks. No Cubs pitcher had achieved that feat since lefty Jose Quintana did so in his Chicago debut on July 16, 2017.
July 12, 2019: If the Cubs could put Darvish’s performance in a bottle labeled “Yu’s Secret Stuff,” a la the film "Space Jam," they would. Darvish’s “stuff” played a huge role in both his and the Cubs’ success in the 4-3 victory over the Pirates at Wrigley Field. Darvish baffled the Bucs with his six-pitch repertoire. He allowed just two hits over six scoreless innings.
“Anytime, anywhere, I’ll take that,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s getting real comfortable in his Chicago Cubs skin right now. He’s just a different cat.”
Darvish missed bats with all six pitches in his start inducing 14 swings-and-misses on the fastball, cutter, changeup, curveball, slider and his splitter. The splitter, which he hadn’t thrown much in recent starts was a late addition to his repertoire.
“He wanted the splitter back out. He felt good about it,” Maddon said. “It was outstanding to go with the cutter, slider and then he would change speeds off that to give it a bigger break.”
“Yeah, it worked well,” Darvish said. “But when I threw it against lefties, they didn’t chase. So I went to the changeup after the third inning and that worked well.”
2019 Improvements: It took Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel a long time to learn, develop, and hone the knuckle-curve that he uses as a swing-and-miss weapon. Rookie reliever Rowan Wick learned it during Spring Training and is still gaining trust, feel, and consistency with the pitch.
Yu Darvish asked Kimbrel about his curveball grip and approach, began toying around with the pitch, and is already using it in games to collect strikeouts.
"He walked up to me the other day and he was like, 'Hey, I've been working on that,'" Kimbrel said at Citi Field. "I was like, 'Cool.' I didn't know he was going to go out and throw it. I thought that was pretty cool."
Darvish now has three curveball variations. The righthander has a slow curve that drops under 70 mph and a regular one that sits around 75-76 mph. In his past two starts, Darvish started mixing in the harder knuckle-curve, which comes in around 80-82 mph and has a sharper downward break. (Jordan Bastian - MLB.com - Aug. 28, 2019)
September 17, 2019: Yu set a single-game Cubs franchise record with eight consecutive strikeouts.
Why Yu's fastball is so nasty: 77 strikeouts on cutters. Yu throws, oh, just your normal 10 pitches . . . so saying "fastball" could mean anything. We're talking about the one that launched him on his insane run of 124 strikeouts to seven walks over the final three months of the 2019 season: his cutter.
If you asked Darvish, he might tell you he throws two cutters—a regular cutter (in the upper 80s) and hard cutter (in the low 90s). But we're grouping them together for our purposes, since it's still the same basic pitch type. Darvish's cutter became his most-thrown pitch last season, leap-frogging his four-seamer as he increased its usage nearly threefold, from 13.5 percent to 36.5 percent. With his superior command of the cut fastball, Darvish transformed his season. No one notched more strikeouts on cutters than Darvish in 2019 (77). And he held hitters to a .195 batting average over 246 at-bats decided on that pitch. (D Adler - MLB.com - March 30, 2020)
"It's just fun to watch him work, because he can do so many things that a lot of us can't do and never were able to do with a baseball," Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy.
The "Supreme" is an alternative to his traditional splitter. Hottovy said it was a hybrid pitch that combined a two-seam fastball with a split, and the video posted by Darvish shows the offering fading down and in toward the righthanded batter's box. (Bastian - mlb.com -7/5/2020)
2020 Season: It’s nearly impossible to overstate the performance of Yu Darvish this season, a career year for the 34-year-old righty.
Career-low ERA (2.01) and FIP (2.23). A 6.65 strikeout-to-walk rate, easily the best of his career. His best-ever WHIP (0.961). And with a 221 ERA+, Darvish nearly doubled his previous best, set in 2013, when he finished second in AL Cy Young voting.
His league-leading FIP could be the difference this year, as Darvish is considered by some as the favorite to win the award given annually to the league’s best pitcher. One formula projects the ace to win the award by a wide margin over Trevor Bauer of the Reds and Jacob deGrom of the Mets. Darvish also led the Senior Circuit in fWAR (3.0), trailing only Shane Bieber of Cleveland (3.2) among all starters in baseball.
Thanks to an historic repertoire of pitches, Big Yu posted 8 wins in his career year with the Cubs, a 22-win pace for a full season. There’s no doubt Darvish has been elite since turning it around after the 2019 All-Star Break.
Final Stats: 76 IP, 93/14 K/BB, 8 W, 2.01 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 3.0 fWARFinal Grade: A+ (Michael Canter - October 26, 2020)
Nov 11, 2020: There is a mutual respect between Yu Darvish and Trevor Bauer. They once shared an agent, creating an avenue for a kind of professional friendship that has included sharing ideas and training methods.
Bauer and Darvish squared off twice during the 2020 season, giving them a chance to take all those conversations to the mound. They each came out on top once, offered compliments in postgame Zoom sessions and soon found themselves in a battle for the NL Cy Young.
The Baseball Writers' Association of America voted Bauer as the best pitcher in the NL for his work with the Reds, recognizing him the Cy Young Award winner. Darvish also turned in a campaign worthy of that honor, but the Cubs’ ace finished as the runner-up.
Darvish earned three first-place votes and finished with 123 points in the balloting, while Bauer netted 27 of the 30 first-place votes and won the accolade with 201 points. Mets ace Jacob deGrom finished third in voting. (J Bastian - MLB.com - Nov 11, 2020)
Dec 9, 2020: Darvish was named to the All-MLB First Team rotation, alongside 2020 Cy Young Award winners Shane Bieber and Trevor Bauer, plus Jacob deGrom and Max Fried. Picking Darvish was a no-brainer, given that he led the National League in WAR (3.0 per FanGraphs) in 2020 and finished second to Bauer in balloting for the NL Cy Young. Darvish's WAR, 2.23 fielding independent pitching and 2.30 win probability added in 2020 each ranked second to Bieber in the Majors.
2020 Season: Darvish's eighth MLB season was his best one yet. The 34-year-old finished second in NL Cy Young voting, won more games than any other pitcher in his league, and posted career-best marks in ERA, FIP, and walks per nine innings. While his lone playoff start against the Miami Marlins wasn't his finest work, Darvish still managed to hold Miami scoreless for 6 2/3 frames before things unraveled.
March 7, 2021: "A lot of the hitters are looking for offspeed when they face me," Darvish said through a team interpreter after the game. "That's why maybe the fastball works."
That's Darvish's pitching style in a nutshell. For Padres fans who didn't watch much of him before the December deal that brought him to San Diego, it's time to get used to that very distinct pitching style. There's no such thing as a fastball count with Darvish. He threw four-seamers far more frequently when he was ahead in counts last season than when he was behind.
"A lot of times, it plays backwards from what people would like to see," pitching coach Larry Rothschild said earlier in camp. "But I think it's highly effective, and he's gotten comfortable in his own skin with that. For me to get in the way of that would be a big mistake." Darvish used his cutter and slider expertly to get ahead. Then, it was lights out. (Never a good idea to fall behind against Darvish -- not with the dizzying array of weapons at his disposal.)
Darvish struck out three in the first inning, using his curve for the first, his fastball for the second and his splitter—which he's been working on with fellow Japanese pitching icon and Padres special advisor Hideo Nomo—for the third. It was an early glimpse into the arsenal that took Darvish to a second-place finish in NL Cy Young voting in 2020 and a 2.01 ERA. Darvish is a nine-year veteran, but the way he sees it, he's never been better.
In 2020, Darvish's best pitch was his slider. When the Padres added Yu Darvish this off-season, they gained an elite arm with one of baseball’s best repertoires. Darvish’s best pitch seems to vary each year and you could argue that it’s one of the aspects of his game that makes him great. In 2020, his slider was the offering that seemed to outshine. 14.9 inches of horizontal break made the movement of this pitch elite. A colossal 46.6% CSW left him near the top of the leaderboard. Hitters couldn’t do much with the slider, hitting just .095 against it.
May 17, 2021: And here's what makes Darvish so truly unique: He'll set you up with his dizzying array of breaking pitches. Then once he's ahead of you, and you've begun to guess breaking ball, he has upper-90s heat in his back pocket. Darvish threw a beautiful 95.4 mph two-seam fastball with life that tailed over the inside corner at the letters. McMahon swung, but he didn't have much of a chance.
“I’ve seen him do it to a couple lefties this year. It starts on the hip, and somehow ends up on the corner,” Tingler said. “You’re used to him cutting the ball, spinning the ball, getting the ball to break one way. Then, he’s able to run the two-seamer in and you can’t really see rotation, and it’s moving that much at 94, 95, 96 mph. Just the ability to move the ball like that . . . he’s unique.”
How’s this for a scary thought? Darvish says he wasn’t quite himself during those first eight starts. You know, that pitcher with the 2.08 ERA and 0.92 WHIP? Yeah, that wasn’t his best, he says.
“From Spring Training, something wasn’t right, and I’ve been thinking about it all,” Darvish said.
Darvish said, something clicked in his evaluation of his mechanics. He wouldn’t go into details. But Darvish said he was watching video at home, when he grabbed his glove and a ball and went through a few mock deliveries.
“Before I went to bed, everything became clear,” Darvish said. “Obviously, I was able to bring that to the mound tonight. It felt like everything came together there.”
That’s right, Darvish, an ace in the Major Leagues for nearly a decade, is still getting better at age 34. (AJ Cassavell - MLB.com - May 18, 2021)
June 21, 2021: Yu Darvish, nine seasons into his big league career, is still punching out opposing hitters at a historic clip. Darvish recorded his 1,500th career strikeout in the sixth inning of the Padres' 6-2 victory over the Dodgers. In just 197 games, Darvish is by far the fastest pitcher in big league history to reach that milestone, eclipsing Randy Johnson, who needed 206.
2021 Season: In the first half of the season, Darvish pitched to a 3.09 ERA, allowing 36 runs in 18 starts. However, in the second half, Darvish’s ERA soared to 6.16, allowing 42 runs in 12 starts. In other words, Darvish gave up more runs in the second half in six fewer starts than he did in the first half. Part of the reason why Darvish struggled in the second half was an injury.
As of the start of the 2021 season, Darvish had a 71-56 career record, a 3.47 ERA having allowed 137 home runs and 909 hits and 1,392 strikeouts in 1,127 innings.
March 31, 2022: The Padres tabbed the ace right-hander, Darvish for their opener against the D-backs on April 7 at Chase Field. It will be for the second consecutive season.
April 17, 2022: Darvish’s fourth strikeout of the day there was the 1,600th of his career. With just 1,302.1 innings pitched, Darvish is the fastest pitcher to 1,600 Ks by innings pitched. No other pitcher has ever reached that milestone in fewer than 1,350 innings.
- Sept 2, 2022: Padres right-hander Yu Darvish made history on as part of San Diego's 7-1 victory (box score) over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Darvish, who struck out nine batters over seven shutout innings, recorded his 3,000th career strikeout during the fifth inning. "Career" in this instance includes both his time in Major League Baseball, and Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league. Darvish is just the second pitcher to ever clear the 3,000-strikeout threshold while notching at least 1,000 strikeouts in each league: the first was Hideo Nomo, who happens to work for the Padres as a baseball operations advisor.
2006: Darvish was sidelined with some shoulder problems.
August 2009: Yu was on the shelf with shoulder fatigue.
July 7-22, 2013: The Rangers put Darvish on the D.L. with a mild strain in his right upper back. Texas assistant general manager Thad Levine said putting Darvish on the D.L. during the All-Star break will allow Darvish to sit for two weeks and skip just one start while resting the bothersome trapezius muscle.
October 7, 2013: Rangers G.M. Jon Daniels admitted Darvish was dealing with nerve irritation in his lower back over the final month of the season, which affected his strength and endurance. Darvish had an injection to alleviate the problem, but did not want one in September, because it would have forced him to miss a start.
February 16, 2014: Darvish told an assembled group of Japanese media that he felt some hip discomfort earlier this offseason, but after altering his weight-lifting program he arrived in Arizona for spring training feeling healthy.
Darvish told the Japanese reporters that his trainer recommended he quit lifting heavy weights and that the hip felt better starting in January.
In March 2014, back specialist Drew Dossett cleared Yu to pitch, noting he had no structural damage in his neck. And Darvish was activated from the D.L. on April 6, 2014.
August 10-end of 2014 season: Yu was on the D.L. with inflammation in his right elbow. So the Rangers shut him down for the year, not willing to take chances.
March 17, 2015: Darvish underwent elbow ligament replacement surgery, missing the entire season. Dr. James Andrews performed the Tommy John procedure.
April 3, 2015-May 28, 2016: Yu began the season on the D.L. while still rehabbing from the T.J. surgery.
June 13-July 16, 2016: Yu was on the DL with right shoulder discomfort.
August 17-27, 2017: Darvish was on the DL with lower back tightness. He exited a game early. The plan: just have Yu miss one start, then when his spot in the rotation comes up again, he can make that start.
"My initial reaction after the last outing was that I felt like I could make the next start," Darvish said. "However, after talking to the team and consulting with the doctor, I understand their concern and I respect that opinion. I will make sure to get treatment and rest to get ready for my next start."
May 5-15, 2018: Yu was on the DL with parainfluenza virus.
May 23, 2018: Darvish went on the 10-Day DL with triceps tendinitis.
June 29, 2018: Darvish was diagnosed with a right elbow impingement and inflammation by Rangers orthopedist Keith Meister in Dallas. He received a cortisone shot.
August 21, 2018: An MRI on Yu revealed a stress reaction on his right pitching elbow as well as a triceps strain, and he will not pitch again in 2018. Theo Epstein said, "There is no fracture. A stress reaction or bone bruise requires six weeks of down time and rest."
September 12-Nov 2, 2018: Darvish had arthroscopic debridement surgery for his right elbow in Dallas after receiving a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, the Cubs said. The club said Darvish is expected to be healthy and ready to pitch in time for Spring Training.
March 21, 2019: The blister that developed on Darvish's right hand is in an unusual location, and the problem arose on a slider for the first time in the pitcher's career. That creates a certain level of unknowns for the Cubs. (Editor's note: In 2019, Darvish avoided the IL and started 31 games.)
March 28, 2020: The Cubs announced that starting pitcher Yu Darvish has landed on the 60-day injured list after leaving self-isolation in the Phoenix area for a trip to the local Costco to stock up on household necessities.
The oft-inured Darvish apparently strained his back and pitching shoulder trying to load up his car with several pallets of canned goods, toilet paper, and hand soap.
July 9-19, 2021: Darvish was on the IL with left hip inflammation.
Aug 13-26, 2021: Yu was on the IL with lower back tightness.
- Sept 30-Oct 5, 2021: Yu was on the IL with left hip impingement.