Washington has high expectations for Darvish

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish received one fifth-place vote during last year’s American League Cy Young voting. Could Darvish go from finishing ninth in the voting his rookie year to winning the top pitching award in Year Two?

Rangers manager Ron Washington seems to think it’s a possibility.

“I expect him to be a very good pitcher in the American League,” Washington told Fitzsimmons & Durrett Tuesday on 103.3 [KESN-FM]. “He has a very good team behind him and if he does what we know he is capable of doing, and that’s keep us in ballgames, there’s no reason he can’t win enough ballgames to be considered. There’s no reason why he can’t pitch well enough to be considered. He’s a quality pitcher.

“As I’ve said, he’s one of the best in the American League, if not all of baseball. And I know he’s going into his second year, but Yu Darvish was a quality pitcher before he arrived here in the United States. You can tell by the way he approached spring training and the way he threw the ball, that he has a great idea of what he’s doing and what he has to do.”

Darvish went 16-9 in 29 starts with 221 strikeouts in 191.1 innings in 2012. Darvish got the ball in the Rangers’ one-game playoff against the Baltimore Orioles in October. The Rangers lost 5-1 but the 26-year-old held up his end of the bargain, striking out seven in 6.2 innings of work and exiting with Texas within a run, 2-1.

“There was never any doubt that he had the pitches to compete and win and he proved that last year, going down the stretch in the second half,” Washington said. “Right now, he’s a more relaxed player. He understands what it takes. I think he’s got a feel for the league and the league has a feel for him. He’s able to make adjustments on the fly right now.”

Washington was referring to Darvish’s ability to identify during any given outing which pitches are working and which are not, allowing him to adjust and remain effective even when he doesn’t have his best stuff.

“Those are the traits that good pitchers have,” he said. “I think he’s gotten to the point where he’s able to understand what he has that day and use it until the opposing team makes him make an adjustment.”

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