Darvish DebutsApril 10, 2012I was as excited as everyone else to watch Yu Darvish make is his major league debut last night in Texas against the Seattle Mariners. And while Darvish would be the first one to tell you it was a subpar game by his standards Ranger fans should have gone to bed last night with a lot to be optimistic about. The MLB debut anxiety was obvious. Darvish allowed 4 runs on 4 hits in the first inning that also included 3 walks and a wild pitch. After playing in the same league with Yu for 2 years I can tell you that’s about as un-Darvish as it gets. His pitches had lots of life and velocity but he struggled to harness them. It’s fair to anticipate that, he has a lot riding on his MLB career and a lot of people watching. After Nomo’s success and Dice-K’s recent failures questions remain about the quality of Japanese pitching and how well overseas success can or cannot translate into MLB productivity. The belief that Darvish is more Nomo or Kuroda than Dice-K or Igawa will hold up in my opinion. His stuff is real, the nerves will subside and he will produce, but some adjustments will have to be made.When I watched Darvish pitch last night a few things really stuck out to me. One was that at times he was still trying to pitch like a Japanese pitcher. One of the major differences between Japan and MLB in my experience was how much more a pitcher could live inside in Japan. Generally speaking you could overpower most Japanese hitters inside and you didn’t have to have great command while doing it. I watched Darvish repeatedly attempt to throw strong live fastballs in 93-95 mph range with good movement inside to left handed hitters. The problem I saw was that the fastball would run back and catch too much of the plate, giving Seattle’s hitters a chance to square it up. We call that pitch a front door two-seamer and its nasty when well executed. The down side with that pitch is if you miss over the plate it becomes very hittable. For me when Darvish goes in to LHH I’d stay with the 4 seam straight fastball or a 4 seamer that cuts. He can throw the two seam front door fastball but it has to be spot on, it needs to finish on the inner part of the plate or off. That goes for any right handed pitcher. I don’t love the talk of the 7 pitch repertoire. I think Darvish can dominate AL hitters with his two seam fastball, four seam fastball, slider and split. I’ve learned over my years and share with young pitchers to focus on 2-3 pitches, make them great, instead of giving your attention to 4, 5 or even 6 pitches and making them average or just good. For Darvish he can handle 4 and when that split is on, it is nasty.I heard Terry Francona talking the other night on Sunday Night Baseball about how they learned Dice-K struggled to grip his split in MLB and how it was not nearly as effective as it was with a Japanese baseball. I don’t doubt that’s true but at the same time it obviously wasn’t a problem for Nomo. I remember playing catch with Nomo one time when we were teammates in Detroit. He told me the split was coming, the bottom fell out and I flat out missed it. I was grateful it when through my legs and that he didn’t throw it 8 inches higher. Point being the split can be mastered by Japanese pitchers here in the States despite the difference in the baseball and I have all the confidence in the world that Yu Darvish can do it. It’s a swing and miss off speed pitch and when you combine it with his fastball and slider, well, that’s just not fair.Above all I was relieved for Darvish that the Rangers offense was able to get the lead back and that Darvish had the fortitude to stay in the game. It’s easy to get deflated as a rookie after getting knocked around early in a game (raise your hand Mr. Nitkowski) and not be able to keep your team in it after they battle back, but Darvish never relented.What I saw and what I’ve always known is that Yu Darvish has a warrior mentality. He wanted to finish that 6th inning so badly. And while 6 innings with 5 earned runs is hardly a quality start, it would have been an exclamation point for him. Ending on a positive note with 4 shutout innings after the anxiety ridden rocky start.Nevertheless all signs point to a high probability of success for Yu Darvish and the Rangers. I think you’d have a hard time finding someone who knows pitching that isn’t a strong buy on Yu Darvish’s future in the major leagues.