Darvish’s loss to Tommy John during spring training last season was supposed to spell the end of any playoff hopes for the Texas Rangers in 2015. Instead, they won the AL West and nearly reached the ALCS. The Rangers had shut Darvish down in 2014 with arm trouble as they hurtled toward a miserable finish. That was supposed to save his arm, but it didn’t. After the surgery, Darvish is expected to return in May at the earliest.
Behind Cole Hamels, the Rangers’ rotation is one big question mark. To reach the playoffs again, the Rangers will need Darvish to be the same pitcher who went 39-25 with a 3.27 ERA and 11.2 K/9 over his first 83 big-league starts. Darvish is still only 29, so a return to form is very possible. In 10 professional seasons, however, Darvish has already thrown over 1,800 innings. In his final season with the Nippon Ham Fighters, Darvish averaged over eight innings per start. Fellow Japanese pitchers have not always shown an ability to bounce back from significant injuries.