Darvish: More questions than answers

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Something doesn't add up around here.

Yu Darvish, the ace of the Texas Rangers' staff, said he has endured inflammation before in his right elbow. He had it in Japan in 2011, and it hurt so bad he couldn't play catch. Darvish missed a spring training start but was able to start the season on time. He was fantastic that year with a 1.44 ERA, and an 18-6 record in 232 innings.

Though Darvish hasn't gotten close to those numbers in the major leagues, he's a dominant pitcher and one who is now beginning to look as if he's dealing with consistent fatigue issues in the second half of seasons.

"It's really hard to explain about your health," Darvish said through an interpreter Thursday after being put on the disabled list because of elbow inflammation. "Not all the injuries are caused, or you can find the right reasons for your injuries. I don't think this injury was caused by my fatigue."

Darvish said the elbow inflammation he's dealing with is mild compared to what he dealt with in 2011.

So why spend time on the disabled list?

Darvish said it's the smart play because he doesn't want to risk his future, and it's one the Rangers continue to worry about in the big picture given their fragile state in 2014.

If the Rangers want to contend next season, they need a healthy Darvish.

It's interesting Darvish said he could pitch, then said he couldn't pitch, then said well he doesn't want to hurt himself therefore messing up his future should his elbow give up on him.

When you look at the numbers of Darvish's career, he excels in the beginning and falters late.

In the first two months of a season, he has compiled a 2.89 ERA with an 18-6 record. In the first half of the season overall, Darvish's ERA is 3.17 with 26 victories.

The final two months of the season, Darvish's ERA has risen to 3.42, and overall he's only 13-11 in the second half of the season as the ERA has jumped to 3.65.

Maybe Darvish is starting to fall apart and there's nothing the Rangers can do to stop it. The grind of a baseball season in the U.S. could be too much for him to handle. And shutting it down for two weeks could give him peace of mind.

"I think it is," Darvish said regarding pitchers' health issues tied to making an adjustment to baseball in the big leagues. "It's evident because with so many injuries that we have in Major League Baseball."

Downplaying the inflammation is the best thing the franchise can do, but if Darvish had worse pain in 2011 and pitched, why sit now when the pain is "milder"?

A big reason is the team's record. This Rangers are battling for the worst record in baseball with the Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros. Darvish doesn't want to dig through a difficult 2014 season with a balky elbow.

Darvish, like the rest of the Rangers, don't seemed worried. After all, he made a joke about having a few cocktails back in 2011 to deal with this type of inflammation.

If Darvish doesn't return in 2014, it raises some questions about his commitment when it appears he could pitch through this. But he's also in control of his career and if this balky elbow worries him, then it's his right to sit down.

How he feels the next two weeks can determine his and the Rangers' future.