Darvish is In Control
Darvish controls many things right now. He controls his tightly wound slider just as he controls his own destiny in many ways with the offseason rapidly approaching.
Control is a seminal tenant of elite pitching. In lower levels, control can simply mean the ability to get the ball over the plate. At the major league level, and the level at which Darvish pitches, control is often a matter of mere inches. Against the worlds most lethal hitters, you must be able to pinpoint your arsenal of pitches to very specific sub regions of the strike zone to be effective.
This ability of control can be assessed on a pitch by pitch level, but for a major league scout, the often look to a more long term metric when attempting to predict the control of a prospect.
Enter the strikeout to walk ratio.
K/BB is a telltale sign that can separate the pitchers from the mere throwers.
Watching the 2011 MLB Playoffs and now World Series, I keep getting chances to watch Darvish’s potential offseason free agent rival, C.J. Wilson of the Texas Rangers.
Wilson has a tremendous arsenal and a live arm that is certain to snare him a 100 million dollar plus contract, despite a shaky postseason.
For the post season, Wilson had struck out 24 while walking a shocking number of 19 batters. This gives him a strikeout to walk ratio of 1.26, meaning he averages almost one walk for every strikeout he earns. He is fighting against himself. His control is a weak point.
For the regular season, Wilson was successful but not dominant, going 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA. He struck out 206 while walking 74 batters. Enough to put him near the league lead in the dubious category. His K/BB ratio was 2.78.
Darvish, while playing in a different league, posted an 18-6 record with a 1.44 ERA. He struck out an astronomical 276 batters while walking a mere 36 batters. Less than half of Wilson’s total. Darvish’s strikeout to walk ratio was 7.67. That will also translate into a 100 million dollar plus contract.
In a pound for pound comparison of control’s most notable metric, Darvish destroys Wilson. Both are incredibly lethal pitchers, but Darvish is the rare power pitcher who comes pre-programmed with laser control of his pitches.
If he can keep throwing his pitched where he wants and stays ahead in the count, there is no reason to believe that his master control won’t lead to major league stardom.
He is not a work in progress, his game is built on a solid foundation of multiple pitch control. The question will be how long will it take Darvish to learn the tendencies of major league batters. He will have the scientific scouting reports and expertise of major league pitching coaches, but he will also need to hold himself personally accountable for mentally knowing every hitter he faces.
But knowing how to throw any of his pitches exactly where he wants will give him an advantage that sometimes eludes even top pitchers like C.J. Wilson.
Darvish’s control makes him ace material as soon as the offseason starts.
A rotation featuring Darvish AND Wilson wouldn’t look too bad….