Cy Young in April: Keeping an Eye on Darvish for 2013
April is way too early to talk about who is going to win awards. Every year we see players who get off to hot starts but cool off.
Naturally, I’m going to ignore this notion and talk about it now anyway. After failing to get the final out and complete a perfect game in his first start of the 2013 season, Yu Darvish has been one of the best pitchers in the majors through his first 5 starts. With one start left in April, Darvish is 3rd in the AL with a 1.65 ERA and an phenomenal 49 strikeouts (13.5/9) in 32.2 innings. That’s 10 more Ks than Buchholz who is 2nd in the AL and has 5 more innings pitched. Darvish is also 2nd in BAA with .145 and 2nd in WHIP with .080. So far, he has improved on all of his numbers from last season when he went 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA and 221 Ks (10.4/9) and a 1.28 WHIP. He’s improved his 4.2 BB/9 to 2.8/9 this year. He also has not allowed a HR in any of his 32.2 innings.
Now, before I get ahead of myself, it is worth noting that Darvish was very good in April last season as well. He started 5-0 with a 2.18 ERA before going 9-9 with an ERA well over 4.50 from May through August. Although it is worth noting in April of last season, he pitched the same number of innings and had 7 more walks, 16 less strikeouts, and a WHIP nearly twice what his is now. Darvish is no stranger to success after posting an ERA under 2.00 for five consecutive seasons over in Japan while recording more than 9.00 Ks/9 in four of them.
No one since Pedro did it in 2000 has won the AL Cy Young with an ERA under 2.00 and over 250 strikeouts. Something no ones else did in the AL since 1968. This has only been done 3 times in the NL by Cy Young winners and one of them was also Pedro Martinez. This means two things, if Darvish stays on this pace, he’ll win the AL Cy Young hands down. It also means it is only April, and I’ll bet his numbers will change. He just missed history by falling one out short of a perfect game in his first start of the year, in his second season in the MLB. A lot can change between now and October, but if the Cy Young was awarded in April, it seems clear who it would belong to.