Coming back from a disabled list stint to fight off a parainfluenza virus infection, it was always fair to wonder how much stamina Yu Darvish would have right out of the gate last night. But he looked strong throughout his start, and there was no indication prior to the game that Darvish would be limited or on a pitch count.
So when he departed after just 61 pitches before the start of the 5th inning, despite allowing just one solo home run, it was a moment to be mildly concerned. My hope was that we’d find out he just wore down a little more quickly than anticipated as he builds back up his strength, rather than he was dealing with a little tightness here or soreness there.
The actual reason he was pulled was more of a combination of the two: a calf cramp.
“I was expecting him to go back out there,” Joe Maddon told ESPN after the game. “The trainers came up to me and told me he felt (some) cramping issues in the fourth (inning). Yu wanted to go back out but I said ‘No, I don’t think that’s wise.’ Having been ill recently it just doesn’t make any sense.”
Darvish went on to explain that, during his illness, he wasn’t able to eat/train/etc. the way he normally would, and so, although he felt 100 percent coming into the start, he could tell once it began that he wasn’t quite there. His expectation is that he will be back to normal (again) for his start this weekend.
Hopefully that’s the case, and this isn’t a lingering thing. A serious sickness, for a top athlete, can be a real pain in the butt, because these guys have to do so much on a daily basis to stay in tip-top condition.
And moreover, hopefully the calf cramping was just a related side effect of all of this, and some dehydration. We’ve seen it a million times, where cramping was actually a mild strain, only discovered later on. I am not trying to sound any alarms or sound panicky – I’m just saying, I’ll be confident about this side of things only when Darvish is back on the mound.
It’s a shame this happened, because he looked good through four innings. Even the solo homer he gave up was not especially well-struck. He struck out five and walked two over his four innings, allow just that one run and three hits. He netted a whopping 15 whiffs on those 61 pitches, which is nuts. The stuff was clearly working.
Even though he went only four innings, the start actually produced his third highest game score of the season, which … well … that’s not necessarily saying something good.