Originally posted on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 9/17/12

The unknown is exciting. As much as I love having players like Tim Hudson on my fantasy team, owning someone like Yu Darvish is much more interesting. Hudson will give me good production — he won’t provide many strikeouts, instead contributing in wins, ERA, and WHIP — but the upside is limited. Darvish could be an ace.

But the problem with drafting Darvish this year was the lack of good comparables. Most would immediately jump to Daisuke Matsuzaka, but the two are very different pitchers. Now with almost a year of stats in the books, we have a good idea of what kind of pitcher Darvish really is. Essentially, he’s Yovani Gallardo.

Check out these stats comparing Darvish and Gallardo this season:

Odd first names aren’t the only thing linking Darvish and Gallardo this season. Both starters are on pace for 200-inning seasons, both have 15 wins with substantial loss totals, both have ERAs that hover around 4.00 with nearly identical WHIPs, and both are strikeout pitchers with high walk tendencies and low fly ball rates.

The similarities don’t stop there, though. Take a look at each starter’s PitchFX numbers this year:

* RAA/C means Runs Above Average per 100 pitches thrown

There are an awful lot of similarities here, but there are also a few differences. It’s probably easier if we break them up into two bulleted sections.


  • Almost the same age
  • Very similar fastball velocities
  • Very similar pitch selection, featuring strong four-seam fastballs, mixing in some two-seamers, and throwing a high number of sliders and curves
  • Neither pitcher really features a change-up
  • Both have fastballs that are slightly below average (RAA/C) but clearly use them to set up above average sliders


  • Darvish really dials down the velocity for his off-speed stuff (81.7 mph and 71.1 mph for his slider and curveball, respectively)
  • Darvish also features a cutter about 15 percent of the time that rates as 1.99 RAA/C (i.e. very good)

So it’s pretty clear that Darvish and Gallardo are rather similar. Darvish is a little bigger at 6’5, 215 pounds to Gallardo’s 6’2, 210 pounds, but both are strikeout pitchers that avoid fly balls and feature strong sliders as their primary out pitch, and that makes them fairly good comparables. I’d expect Darvish’s control to improve as he settles into his Major League career, but he should still be valued about the same as Gallardo from here on out.

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