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Why did the Rangers let Yu Darvish throw 130 pitches in a blowout?

May 17, 2013, 11:19 AM EDT

Yu Darvish AP

Last night’s big Justin Verlander-Yu Darvish matchup proved to be a bust, as the two aces combined to allow 12 runs. Darvish at least managed to fight through some early struggles to complete eight innings, whereas Verlander failed to make it out of the third inning in the worst start of his career.

Of course, Darvish needed 130 pitches for those eight innings and considering the Rangers were up 9-4 after five innings and 10-4 after seven innings it seems odd that they’d let him pile up so many pitches in a game that wasn’t really in doubt. After completing six innings of four-run ball Darvish had thrown 102 pitches, but they trotted him out there for two more innings in a blowout.

Asked to explain afterward, here’s what manager Ron Washington said:

I saw the big lead; the lineup they got, it’s not soft anywhere in it. Even though we had the lead, I wasn’t comfortable. I felt like he needed to get us through the eighth inning to give our bullpen a break, and he certainly did that. … Yu Darvish, in my opinion, is a stud. And I don’t think we overworked him tonight.

So … basically Washington kept Darvish out there because he didn’t feel comfortable with a 9-4 or 10-4 lead.

Darvish racked up some huge pitch counts in Japan and said afterward that he felt perfectly comfortable going to 130 last night, but it’s worth noting that he also threw 127 pitches on May 5, with a 105-pitch start in between. To be piling up that sort of workload this early in the season seems awfully short-sighted and sure enough Todd Willis of ESPN Dallas reports that “Rangers general manager Jon Daniels met with manager Ron Washington after Thursday’s game to discuss Darvish’s pitch count.”

  1. historiophiliac - May 17, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    I’m guessing it’s not good to get called to the principal’s office to discuss pitch counts.

  2. APBA Guy - May 17, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    I recall Nolan Ryan espousing heavier workloads for starters, provided those workloads are matched by suitable preparation. Not sure how much of a say Nolan has these days, but certainly the impact of losing 3 starters to arm problems has to weigh on the organization.

  3. beefytrout - May 17, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    I was stunned when he came out for the 8th. Wash always has a hard time telling his players “no.”

  4. tonyricemajorharris - May 17, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    It’s nice to see pitchers pitch. Stop micro-managing pitchers with pitch counts and innings pitched

    • js20011041 - May 17, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      I would agree, but only if the situation were different. If Yu Darvish had his dominant stuff (four earned and only 6 Ks in 8 innings tells me he didn’t) and the game were close, I’ve got much less of a problem with him being out there. But you don’t do this with a six run lead. If anything, you save him some pitches and get him out of the ballgame a little earlier than normal. With a six run lead, you should be using your worst reliever. It’s a long season. If Darvish starts to wane in September, it’ll be because of usage like this.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 17, 2013 at 12:47 PM

        He seemed to settle down after a terrible third inning. In the later innings he was dealing and looked sharp. While high pitch counts can and should be a concern, I don’t think they should always be a concern. In this case, we are talking about 10 or 15 pitches more than a completely pedestrian start.

        (or course he will probably get shelled in his next start for pure spite, to serve the dual purpose of making my comment here look foolish while simultaneously ruining my fantasy baseball week)

      • Kevin Gillman - May 17, 2013 at 12:55 PM

        I sincerely doubt if he starts to flail in September, it’s because of one game where he threw 2 innings too much.

    • beefytrout - May 17, 2013 at 11:49 AM

      he was past 110 pitches after 7 innings. Pulling him at that point would have hardly been micro-managing. The Rangers have 2 rookies in the starting rotation, so there’s no need to see how many pitches we can get out of Darvish in May.

  5. indaburg - May 17, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    I’m sure Yu’s arm can take the workload. He is however prone to blisters on his fingers, which tend to recur with overuse. Is the Rangers bullpen that bad?

    • beefytrout - May 17, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      They’ve been a bit overworked recently, and there are a few shaky parts (Lowe and Kirkman mostly), but there’s no reason they couldn’t have put Robbie Ross in for the 8th and then that new rookie that eventually pitched the 9th.

  6. bringbackkosar - May 17, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    just trying to outdo Dusty Baker, who left Homer Bailey in for 125 pitches against MIA on Tuesday. Old school

  7. BPKay - May 17, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    1) Because he can throw 130 pitches

    2) Because with Tepesch, Grimm, and Josh Lindblom pitching 3 of the next 4 games, there’s a high liklihood that the bullpen could be taxed heavily soon.

    3) Because he can throw 130 pitches.

    • djpostl - May 17, 2013 at 3:14 PM

      He also wilted in July & August last season, as the vast majority of Asian imports have done in the past their first few in league as they try to adjust to pitching every 5th day as opposed to every 7th day.

      Was a dumb move imo.

      • sprest83 - May 17, 2013 at 3:48 PM

        July and August is basically in the middle of the season. He regained his form in mid August thru September (when it matters most).

  8. v2rotate - May 17, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    I guess John Daniels remembered his playing days and … oh that is right he never played. Daniels might be over everything on the field, but Wash and Nolan are the experts in this area.

    • beefytrout - May 17, 2013 at 12:28 PM

      Wash, Nolan and you, apparently.

    • js20011041 - May 17, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      What experiences or knowledge gleaned, while playing the game, would have taught Jon Daniels that it’s a good idea to extend your best pitcher in a game in which you’re up by six runs?

      Also, making the statement that Ron Washington is an expert on baseball makes me wonder if you’ve gotten a hold of some of his nose candy.

    • kardshark1 - May 17, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      Yeah, obviously ex-jocks without a college education like Ryan and Washington are the people to ask about ligament and rotator cuff over-usage and the long term effects. Silly v2rotate.

    • djpostl - May 17, 2013 at 3:17 PM

      Really? Using your “logic” how many times did Wash pitch in his career?

      Being a part-time utility guy now qualifies him on how to diagnose how this will physically impact a guy who already wilted in the summer heat last July/August?

      Dude’s a crackhead.

  9. salvomania - May 17, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    Considering he only through 56 pitches over his last 5 innings—none of them tough innings—I don’t think it was a big deal.

    30% of his pitch count (39 pitches) came in the third inning, and that was the only inning he allowed more than one baserunner.

  10. sisisisisisisi - May 17, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    So much of a big deal is making out of this. Kershaw threw 132 just a few days ago.

  11. 13arod - May 17, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    i heard in japan that they throw 100 pitches the day before the pitch i like that they left them in there that long

  12. gt929 - May 17, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    It bothers me that Daniels felt the need to ‘discuss’ any in-game decisions with Wash, especially with the awareness of media, if that part of the story is true.

    • djpostl - May 17, 2013 at 3:19 PM

      Look at Darvish’s splits from last July & August.

      There’s reason to be concerned. He faded badly in the summer heat (as do most Japanese imports the first few years as they adjust to pitching every 5th day versus every 7th day, travelling between time zones etc…)

      He has every right (even a responsibility) to have a discussion, if only to see what Washington’s train of thought was.

      • bendover09 - May 17, 2013 at 4:04 PM

        What are you talking about ? Since Darvish came in the league he supports the best record as a pitcher.

      • gt929 - May 17, 2013 at 6:10 PM

        A GM going into the manager’s office to discuss or second guess a decision, or whatever he did, in view of the media and players, is very poor form. It could be taken as an attempt to undermine the manager’s authority. I really like the team that Daniels has assembled, he’s very good at his job, but managing the team is Wash’s job. If Daniels doesn’t like the way Wash manages, he has every right to fire him, but he shouldn’t be telling him how to do it. How has that worked for Jerry Jones?

        I’ve heard (on local sports radio) of some previous things like this concerning Daniels, and I’ve heard he has lost respect from players because of it.

  13. tylermoltisanti - May 17, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    Does anyone have a gif of Miggy looking at that 64 MPH curveball and laughing? That was awesome!

    • tylermoltisanti - May 17, 2013 at 4:03 PM

      found one, wish it showed miggy smiling but still good

      http://network.yardbarker.com/mlb/article_external/yu_darvish_made_miguel_cabrera_look_foolish_on_62_mph_curveball/13638446

  14. bendover09 - May 17, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    A highschool pitch count max is 120 pitches . I’m sure a pitcher in the mlb with the endurance Darvish has will be okay. he takes care of his body extremely well. Just look at his body, the man did not once sweat while Justin was sweating.by the first inning. He was coming off 6 day rest that ron allowed. Yu can also change his potches where his speeds change. Once again, people who don’t play the game are once again the ones making the most noise about the situation

  15. kardshark1 - May 17, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Ron Washington studied at UCLA Medical Center for 8 years and then finished up his doctrine ligament and joint deterioration at USC… Uh… I think he’s obviously aware of the potential risks that over usage brings.

    Wait, actually, he just studied gym at John McDonogh H.S. Still though, he knows more than the entire medical industry cause he played baseball, it’s proven fact.

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