ARLINGTON, Texas -- It has not been an easy six-start stretch for Yu Darvish. He's battled command issues, struggled to limit damage and hasn't pitched as deep into games as he'd like. Since the start of July, Darvish is 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA in six starts to see his ERA climb a full point to 4.57. In other words: He hasn't looked like the guy that baffled hitters in Japan for all those years prior to coming to Texas.
His focus is on returning to the form he had in Japan and trying not to overthink things. That approach pleases manager Ron Washington, who spoke to Darvish while the club was in Boston. Washington didn't want to get into detail about what was said, but he wanted to just check in and see where Darvish's mind was.
“That’s all we want -- who he is and what he was,” Washington said. “We never wanted anything more than that. If that’s where he is now then that’s great, because that’s what we wanted anyway.”
Washington knows that Darvish has a lot of pressure, noting that most pitchers are throwing for their team and themselves, but Darvish has an entire country hoping he can be a star in the majors.
"Those people love him and when he’s not doing well, he feels that," Washington said. "He’s got a lot on his plate. Maybe he finally got the point where it’s figured out, and maybe now he’ll rattle off some games down the stretch when we need him the most and his value will have been just as much as they paid for."
Darvish will be throwing to a new catcher. He threw his last bullpen session to Geovany Soto a few days ago, and Soto will be catching him in a game for the first time Sunday.
"He throws a lot of pitches and he commands a lot of pitches as well," Soto said. "It’s a little bit different, but once I get to see him in a game a couple innings, I’ll get used to him."