Why Yu Darvish Might Be the Next Big Thing

If you haven't heard the name Yu Darvish, you will soon enough. He's been dominating Japanese opponents for a half-dozen years and rumor has it, he's ready to take his talents to the Major Leagues.

If he does decide to join the ranks of the big leagues, the list of potential suitors will be lengthy. In fact, there are plenty of teams that have already made the journey to Japan to scout his team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. That list includes the Yankees, Rangers, Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles, Red Sox and Rays.

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos just returned from a three day scouting trip. Here's what he saw - on Wednesday, Darvish led his Ham Fighters to a 6-1 victory over the Chiba Lotte Marines. He pitched 8 innings, striking out nine and walking three. His season ERA stands at 1.54 and his record is an impressive 16-4. His career ERA over the course of his first six and a half seasons sits below 2.00 and his record is otherworldly - 91-36. His reperoitore of pitches includes a mid 90's fastball, a devastating curve, a cutter and a splitter. In case you were wondering, he just turned 25 last month (he made his debut at the ripe age of 18).

Of course, far east hysteria is nothing new. We have all heard of the gyro ball and remember how much the Red Sox paid to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka ($51.5 million was their winning bid) and for every Hideo Nomo, who is probably the most decorated Japanese pitcher, there seem to be three Hideki Irabu's, but I think that the Yu-hype is well warranted for at least a couple of reasons.

First, he's built like a major league starter (standing 6'4" with a solid frame that projects well) and he's still very young. At age 25, it is likely that he's just hitting his prime.

Second, none of the reports suggest that he relies on a deceptive delivery or a made up pitch that no one's ever heard of. In my opinion, being labeled as deceptive is almost as bad as being labeled an innings eater.

The closest comparison to Yu is seemingly Daisuke Matsuzaka but Dice-K was almost two years older, had a deceptive delivery and apparently threw a gyro ball... three years and one Tommy John surgery later, Dice-K's future as a major league pitcher does not look very promising. In my opinion, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about Yu.

What about YOU... what's your opinion of this phenom?


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