Padres ace Yu Darvish is an ageless wonder

The San Diego ace held Seattle to two hits through eight innings.

It’s sometimes crazy to believe that Yu Darvish has been around for a decade and is just as good now as he was when he arrived to the big leagues from Japan. 

To open a series on the road against an opponent desperate to secure their playoff position, Darvish held the Seattle Mariners to two hits over eight innings to push the San Diego Padres to a 2-0 victory on Tuesday. It was the eighth time in his career he pitched at least eight shutout innings, but the first since June 28, 2014, against the Minnesota Twins, when he was pitching for the Texas Rangers. 

“Yeah, this game was a gem,’ Padres catcher Austin Nola said on Tuesday. “I mean, every pitch was working. I can’t think of a pitch that he didn’t throw for a strike. He threw every pitch for a strike I think he had in his arsenal.”

At a critical time of the season, Darvish has been every bit the ace the Padres need to reach the playoffs. Darvish extended his streak of striking out at least five batters to 17 games, which is the second longest streak in Padres history, behind Mat Latos’ 21-game streak in 2010. He has also pitched at least 6 innings or more in 20 straight starts, which is also the 2nd-longest active streak in the big leagues, behind only Houston Astros starter Framber Valdez (24).

He’s one of the best pitchers to ever pitch in this game.

–Manny Machado on teammate Yu Darvish

In his 10 years in the show, Darvish has compiled a 93-74 record over 239 starts, a 3.51 ERA and 1,766 strikeouts in 1,470 innings pitched.

It’s enough to have Manny Machado call Darvish, “one of the best pitchers to ever pitch in this game.”

2022 has been a renaissance year for veteran pitchers looking to place the proverbial bow atop their Hall of Fame careers. At 36 years old, Darvish is younger than only eight other pitchers in MLB and he has thrown more innings (176.2) than all of them. Among his fellow ageless wonders, only Astros ace Justin Verlander has a lower ERA (1.84) than Darvish, and he is leading all of baseball in that category.

After reaching the postseason for the first time since 2006 during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, the Padres beefed up their starting rotation by trading for Darvish and Blake Snell. Darvish looked the part of an ace last year before the All-Star break (2.44 ERA in his first 16 starts), falling off during the crucial second half (6.65 ERA in his final 14 starts) due to back injuries. 

But this year is different. 

“I don’t feel any fatigue or tiredness,” Darvish said through interpreter Shingo Horie. “So I feel like I’m doing a good job of keeping myself healthy enough to be efficient on the mound.”

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