Posted on July 13, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The Texas Rangers announced Wednesday that starting pitcher Yu Darvish will be activated from the DL this weekend and pitch Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. Darvish has been on the DL since June 13, days after being removed from a game complaining of neck and shoulder discomfort. His return comes amidst reports linking the Rangers to several starting pitchers that may be available on the trade market prior to the non-waiver trade deadline August 1.
Darvish made three starts with the Rangers earlier this season, his first big league starts since August 2014 and his first since undergoing Tommy John surgery. Despite good results in those starts, Darvish was not as sharp as usual with his fastball control and complained of pain around both his neck and shoulder. The Rangers decided to put him on the DL until the pain subsided as a precaution. The team believes the pain arose from Darvish altering his delivery in order to protect his surgically repaired elbow.
Darvish threw a bullpen session Wednesday, after which the Rangers felt comfortable enough to announce his return to the starting rotation. He also made two minor league rehab starts since going on the DL last month. His most recent was Sunday, when Darvish threw 72 pitches across five innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He described it as a “good overall outing.” Darvish is expected to be limited to 90 pitches on Saturday.
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Even with Darvish set to return, the Rangers are still hurting for starting pitchers with Colby Lewis and Derek Holland also on the DL. Lewis, who was in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career, will not begin throwing until mid-August due to a strained muscle near his shoulder. Holland is playing catch but not yet to throw off a mound, giving him at least a couple more weeks until he’ll be ready to return to the Rangers.
Hence, the Rangers have been linked to several starting pitchers, most notably Drew Pomeranz of the San Diego Padres, who is reportedly near the top of their wish list. If Darvish can come back healthy and effective, it’ll take away some of the pressure on the Rangers to trade for a starting pitcher before the deadline. However, Texas may still look to add help to the back end of the rotation with Lewis and Holland on the DL. GM Jon Daniels has also mentioned the bullpen as an area the Rangers would like to upgrade before the deadline.
Of course, if Darvish continues to struggle with pain and discomfort in his return from Tommy John, the Rangers may be aggressive and attempt to acquire one of the better starting pitchers available. Texas does have a strong farm system that could help them land one of the top pitchers on the market. How Darvish pitches in his return to the mound Saturday and in subsequent starts will be an important factor in determining what, if anything, the Rangers do on the trade market over the next few weeks.