DARVISH, YU  
 
Image of    Nickname:   N/A Position:   RHP
Home: N/A Team:   CUBS
Height: 6' 5" Bats:   R
Weight: 220 Throws:   R
DOB: 8/16/1986 Agent: Wasserman Media Group
Birth City: Habikino, Osaka, Japan Draft: 2012 - Rangers - Free agent - Out of Japan
Uniform #: 11  
 
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G IP H SO BB GS CG SHO SV W L OBA ERA
2007 JAP Hokkaido     208   210           15 5   1.82
2008 JAP Nippon Ham $2,900.00   201 136 208 44 24 10 2 0 16 4   1.88
2009 JAP Nippon   23 182 118 167 45       0 15 5   1.73
2010 JAP Nippon   26 202 158 222 47         12 8   1.78
2011 JAP Nippon   28 232 156 276 36 28 10 6   18 6   1.44
2012 AL RANGERS $5,500.00 29 191.1 156 221 89 29 0 0 0 16 9 0.22 3.90
2013 AL RANGERS   32 209.2 145 277 80 32 0 0 0 13 9 0.194 2.83
2014 AL RANGERS $11,000.00 22 144.1 133 182 49 22 2 1 0 10 7 0.241 3.06
2015 AL RANGERS - DL $10,000.00                          
2016 AL RANGERS $10,000.00 17 100.1 81 132 31 17 0 0 0 7 5 0.214 3.41
2016 PCL ROUND ROCK   2 7 3 7 3 2 0 0 0 0 1   2.57
2016 TL FRISCO   5 20 14 24 7 5 0 0 0 1 1   2.25
2017 NL RANGERS $11,000.00 22 137 115 148 45 22 0 0 0 6 9 0.225 4.01
2017 NL DODGERS   9 49.2 44 61 13 9 0 0 0 4 3 0.235 3.44
2018 NL CUBS   4 19.2 21 21 11 4 0 0 0 0 2 0.269 6.86
  • 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.

  • 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, in a post-game interview. 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 a 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.

  • Before Darvish left Japan for Texas back in 2012, 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."

  • 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.

  • 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 - 10/3/16)

  • 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.

  • The Los Angeles Angels and Atlanta 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.

  • 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.

    More from the writer: 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.

  • 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 '07, 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.

    MLB.com: So it's OK that Jon Lester gets the Opening Day start for the Cubs?

    Darvish: He is the leader of the club, and he hits the ball the farthest, so I think he deserves it as well.  (Muskat - mlb.com - 3/22/18)

    TRANSACTIONS

  • 2011: After the Japanese season, the Nippon Ham Fighters posted Darvish.

    December 19, 2011: The Texas Rangers posted 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.

  • Nov 2, 2017: Darvish chose free agency.

  • Feb. 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 this year's free agents.
PERSONAL:
 
  • 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)

  • In 2016, Darvish used his pitches with the following frequency: 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.

    In 2017, Darvish used his pitches with the following frequency: 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.


  • 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.


    The difference in velocity between his fastball (94
    .7 mph) and curveball (73.4 mph) in 2017 was 21.3 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)
  • 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)

  • 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, produced impressive baseball results: records of 5-5 with a 3.53 ERA and 12-5 with a 2.89 ERA in his first two seasons.

    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-2/19/09)

  • 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.

  • "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."

  • 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 punchouts for the 16th time in his career, and 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 he most since Randy Johnson in 2004 (290).

  • 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 1/3 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.

  • 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.

  • Sept 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 - Sept 9, 2017)

  • 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 Houston 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 Boston 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).

  • As of the start of the 2018 season, Darvish had a 56-42 career record, a 3.42 ERA having allowed 92 home runs and 674 hits and 1,021 strikeouts in 832 innings. And, Yu has an amazing 29.7 percent strikeout rate. That is the best K-rate for any active pitcher, minimum of 100 starts, in major league history!

    That's better than Clayton Kershaw. Better than Randy Johnson. And better than Nolan Ryan!

PITCHING:
 
  • 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, 2014: 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 o the DL with lower back tightness. He exited the game early that day. 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."

CAREER INJURY REPORT:
 
 
Last Updated 4/22/2018. All contents © 2000 by Player Profiles. All rights reserved.