San Diego Padres right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish is proving his worth early this 2021 season.
The San Diego Padres are off to a different start than many of their fans expected entering the season.
After a dominant offensive performance in 2020 and an offseason headlined by three major starting rotation acquisitions, the Padres’ bullpen is stealing the show as the most dominant part of the team. Despite a somewhat disappointing start to the season for the rotation, there is one consistent bright spot for the Padres.
With inconsistencies from Chris Paddack, injuries to Ryan Weathers and Dinelson Lamet short starts from Blake Snell, and a handful of mediocre starts from Joe Musgrove, right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish is the unsung hero for the Padres through 35 games.
When Padres manager Jayce Tingler named Darvish as the 2021 opening day starter, Tingler seemingly tabbed Darvish as the ace of a very talented starting pitching staff.
Darvish struggled on opening day, but since his first start for the Friars, Darvish has dominated opposing lineups.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) April 24, 2021
The 2020 National League Cy Young Award runner-up pitched at least six innings while surrendering just one run in five consecutive starts following his uncharacteristic appearance on opening day. In three of those five starts, Darvish completed seven innings and additionally worked into the seventh one other outing.
Darvish’s ability to pitch deep into games is his biggest contribution to the team. His three starts of at least seven innings lead the team and are more than the rest of the rotation combined.
In another comparison to the rest of the Padres rotation, Darvish, as mentioned earlier, has made five starts of at least six innings. All other Padres pitchers combined to complete six innings only three times, and all three were done by Joe Musgrove in his first four starts.
Yu Darvish, Gorgeous 98mph Two Seamer. 😍🔥
And Gun Check. 👀 pic.twitter.com/5XUQQCgVHS
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 1, 2021
Every start that Darvish goes deeper into the game, it saves innings from an already extremely taxed bullpen. That is what makes Darvish the unsung hero of the Padres right now.
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This is not meant to say that the Padres rotation is bad because that is false. However, Yu Darvish is doing something that the rest of the rotation is not, and if it were not for Darvish, the strength of the bullpen would take a strong decline from overuse.
Until the rest of the rotation gets to the production level of Darvish, or even close to him for some of the starters, the Padres will not reach their incredibly high ceiling. The Padres might be lucky that they still boast a winning record.
Dominic is a graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Journalism. He also is the producer and co-host of the “Padres EVT Podcast.”