It’s no secret that Yu Darvish can effectively strikeout batters. He has a career 29.8 percent K rate translating to a 11.08 K/9 career mark, and has already tallied 71 punchouts in only 61.1 IP in 2014.
Darvish makes hitters uncomfortable with a robust repertoire, including nearly every pitch in the book: Curveball, change-up, split-finger, slider, and three different types of fastballs. However, during Sunday’s game against the Washington Nationals, Adam LaRoche was dumbfounded as Yu Darvish displayed yet another pitch in his vast arsenal: a 59 mph Eephus.
It’s difficult not to become infatuated with a pitch that rises to eye level, yet gracefully falls into the catcher’s mitt located at the batter’s knees. Additionally, striking out an MLB hitter with a pitch that’s slower than an eighth grader’s fastball is quite the accomplishment.
In fact, Darvish joined a rare club Sunday afternoon, making him the 13th player since 2008 to record a strikeout on a 60-mph or slower pitch, a list that includes famous knuckleballers Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey.
There are pitchers that throw upwards of 100 mph, and it’s easy to grasp their abilities to send hitters walking back to the dugout. However, Yu Darvish’s affinity for Ks lies not in his 92.3 mph fastball, but rather his deep variety of pitches that keeps batters guessing in every count.
Nick Pollack writes for Pitcher GIFs and can found making an excessive number of GIFs on Twitter @PitcherGifs.